The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Office of Farm to Fork is pleased to announce that they are one of 65 USDA Farm to School grantees spanning 42 states and Puerto Rico receiving support this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Grant Program. The Grant Program is part of USDA’s effort to better connect school cafeterias and students with local farmers and ranchers.
“Increasing the amount of local foods in America’s schools is a win-win for everyone,” USDA Secretary Perdue said in announcing the Farm to School grants. “Our children benefit from the fresh, local food served in their meals at school, and local economies are nourished, as well, when schools buy the food they provide close to home.”
CDFA’s Office of Farm to Fork (Office) received the USDA Farm to School Grant to support its new leadership of the California Farm to School Network (Network). The Network is a “one-stop shop” for everything related to Farm to School in the state of California. As a communications hub and a convener across many organizations and regions in the state, the Network will align Farm to School efforts, share resources, and bring farmers, schools, distributors, and practitioners together. The Office was also selected as the 2017-2019 National Farm to School Network California Core Partner and looks forward to participating in national farm to school efforts.
The Network originally started in 2013 and led by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI), and LifeLab. As the new Network lead, the Office looks forward to strengthening the already robust movement built by these organizations and all farm to school stakeholders throughout California. Through this transition, the Office will continue partnerships with CAFF (which will lead procurement efforts), UEPI (which will lead early childhood education work), and Lifelab (which will lead school garden efforts).
The USDA Farm to School Grant recognizes the Office’s leadership in the farm to school and farm to early care and education movements, and will provide new opportunities for the Office to continue building capacity and support for farm to school programs in California. In the coming months the Office looks forward to hearing from farm to school stakeholders in California and sharing new resources and tools to further advance the movement.
Together, the Office and the many farm to school practitioners in California will support the development of new information and resources, grow awareness of farm to school benefits, and provide vision for the growth and evolution of the program.