July 2018
Farm Fresh Spotlight Story
Congratulations to all participants in TDA's first Summer Farm Fresh Challenge
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Summer Farm Fresh Challenge was a huge success in its first year! A total of 34 summer sponsors overseeing 800 summer meal sites served local, farm fresh foods and provided nutrition-based learning activities to summer meal participants.
Commissioner Sid Miller hosted representatives from USDA's Southwest Regional Office on a tour of Austin ISD's Harris Elementary School during their Summer Farm Fresh Challenge event. Commissioner Miller and his guests were able to see firsthand the benefits of the Challenge. Through collaboration with the Andy Roddick Foundation and fresh produce from Johnson's Backyard Garden, the school's event is an excellent example of the excitement and collaboration the Farm Fresh initiative is designed to promote.
AISD's summer nutrition education included introducing students to purple bell peppers and banana peppers. Children also taste tested items that are being added to menus in the upcoming school year.
Make sure to bookmark Squaremeals.org/FarmFreshChallengeSFSP to be the first to learn about registering for the 2019 challenge!

Farm to School Spotlight
Registration open to 2018 Farm Fresh Challenge

The Local Products Challenge has a new name -- the Farm Fresh Challenge! Since 2013, TDA has recognized schools for their efforts to bring local foods and agricultural education to their students. This year's name change also ushers in updated challenge parameters. Register for the 2018 Farm Fresh Challenge and learn more about what's new here!

USDA Announces Farm to School Grant Awards

USDA Food and Nutrition Service has announced the awarding of $5.2 million in USDA Farm to School grants. The funds will go to 73 projects across 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. This year's grantees included two Texas school districts - North East ISD in San Antonio and Houston ISD.
Farm to School Grants may be used for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, cultivating partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs. Register for USDA's weekly newsletter The Dirt to learn more about upcoming grant cycles.

Farm to Child Care Spotlight
Child and Adult Care Food Program Farm Fresh Challenge Pilot is now open!

The Farm Fresh Challenge Pilot is now open to all CACFP sponsors in Houston's ESC 4 Region. All CACFP sponsor types in ESC Region 4 are invited to eat local, teach local, and be social October 1-12. Learn more about the Farm Fresh Challenge and pledge participation at

TDA plans to launch the CACFP Farm Fresh Challenge statewide in March, 2019.

Producer Spotlight
Producer Showcase and Workshop

Several Farm Fresh Network producers attended the Business of Numbers & Nutrition Conference in Austin June 14-15. During the Producer Showcase, p roducers met with child nutrition directors and business officials to explore ways to provide Texas students with more locally grown food. Producers also participated in a one-day TDA workshop to discuss local procurement and best practices for working with schools.

Conference registration is now open, register

The conference will be held in the Department of Agriculture's building on Texas State University's campus. The conference will be followed by a small equipment demonstration on August 15th. Registration is $75 before 8/1 and $90 after that. Registration is limited, so reserve your spot today.

Welcome to the Farm Fresh Network!

We would like to welcome new members Sustainable Harvesters and The Common Market to the TDA Farm Fresh Network!

Sustainable Harvesters was started by two LSU grads in their hometown of Houston. Now based out of Hockley, Sustainable Harvesters is producing fresh lettuce, mixed greens and seafood.

The Common Market is a nonprofit food distributor with a mission to connect communities with food from sustainable family farms and producers. Since 2008, The Common Market Texas has sought to partner with producers who share in the commitment to scale capacity and meet the needs of institutional customers.

Visit Squaremeals.org/FarmFreshNetwork to check out the map of Farm Fresh Network members statewide. Texas farmers, ranchers, and distributors can create a Farm Fresh Network profile online and get started connecting with schools, child and adult care centers, and summer meal programs.

Contact TDA
Emilee Case
Coordinator for Farm Fresh Projects

Beatrice Watson
Farm Fresh Specialist

Email us or call
(877) TEX-MEAL
Connect with Others
Texas Statewide Network
This LinkedIn Group is an online network connecting schools, child and adult care centers, producers, support organizations and community members with important information about expanding local food efforts in Texas.
Join Today!

Texas Farm Fresh Network
Use this tool to connect with Texas food companies that currently sell or are interested in selling to schools, child care centers and summer meal programs. Company listings include contact information, product availability and distribution radius.
Funding Opportunities
Financial support from organizations may help establish or advance local Farm Fresh initiatives.
Go here  for a list of opportunities from TDA, USDA and other organizations.