May 2017

Herbs: Fun to Plant and Eat!
The spotlight was on Farm Fresh basil at the recent Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Meal Appeal University in Corpus Christi. Instructors used the popular herb to highlight easy ways to serve up fun and nutrition in school lunchrooms. Education Service Center Region 2 hosted the event which was attended by more than 100 school nutrition directors and culinary team members. Participants had the opportunity to taste fresh Genovese basil and sample basil and corn salad. They also enjoyed learning how to plant sweet basil.
The following lessons from the Meal Appeal University can be used to support your Farm Fresh efforts today:
  • Empower all team members to engage students with discussions about the local ingredients they are serving in meals and snacks.
  • A hands-on activity like planting a basil seedling is a fun way to introduce new ingredients to children and culinary team members. Growing herbs can be done in small spaces too. They can grow happily in a container on a sunny window sill.
  • Fresh herbs can be purchased locally, especially during the spring months. Visit the Farm Fresh Network to find a local producer of fresh herbs.
  • Fresh herbs enhance the flavor profile of many dishes without increasing sodium levels.
If you are interested in reading more about this training event, please  read this article published by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
Farm to School Spotlight

USDA Local Wellness Policy Resources for Schools
A new communications toolkit is now available to support school wellness policy communications efforts at the local level.

The toolkit includes these templates:
  • Letter to the principal
  • Newsletter article
  • Parent handouts (English and Spanish)
  • Presentations for school staff and parents
  • Social media graphics and sample posts

Visit USDA's website for more information and to download a copy of the toolkit today.

USDA Farm to School Trainings Available in the Professional Standards Database
Are you interested in learning more about Farm to School while also meeting your Professional Standards requirements? 

Several USDA trainings covering a variety of topics and resources including Boulder Valley School District's Garden as Classroom Manual and the Massachusetts Farm to School Cookbook are now available in the Professional Standards Database.
Farm to Child Care Spotlight

Building Farm to Child Care networks webinar series
recordings now available
The April National Farm to School Network Webinar focuses on Statewide Network Building. Leaders from the North Carolina Farm to Preschool Network and the Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition shared models and identified keys to success in building a successful network.
Save the date for the next Farm to Child Care Webinar Wednesday, July 12, 2017, starting at 2:30 (Central).  Register here .
Farm to Summer Spotlight

TDA Releases new Summer Guidebook
TDA's Summer Best Practices Guidebook is now available for download! Follow TDA's social media best practices to communicate to your audience about your participation in the Farm to Summer Initiative!
Pictures speak louder than words - plan ahead if you know you will be having a special Farm to Summer kick-off event and make sure to have someone on hand to snap fun photos you can use to support your message all summer long.

Grant Spotlight

TDA is now accepting applications for the 2017-2018 Urban Schools Agricultural Grant Program. This program provides funding for hands-on projects to teach children the role that agriculture plays in their daily lives. Projects can incorporate community involvement with the students' families, agricultural professionals, or agriculture associations.  Project funds must be used to enhance students understanding of agriculture and cannot be used for campus beautification. 

Learn more about this grant and download the application on TDA's Grant Web page  . Applications are due Thursday, May 25, 2017 before 5:00 p.m.

Contact TDA
Alyssa Herold
Coordinator for Farm Fresh Initiatives
Emilee Case
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.