November 2016
Learning Outside of the Box

Some of the best memories are created when we step outside of our routine and open ourselves up to new experiences. Recently the Farm Fresh Team had an opportunity to do just that when we visited two Austin ISD campuses to participate in a day of farm fresh activities.
 
The day started with taste testing bell peppers at a local elementary school and ended with lunch at AISD's new Vietnamese food truck concept featuring locally baked bread and water harvested from Central Texas rain. Be on the lookout for a new spotlight story highlighting all of our fun that day .
 
Field trips are a great way for both students and teachers to break out of their routine, gain new experiences and witness first-hand the work that goes into getting food on the table for every meal.
 
Many resources exist to ensure that the learning continues long after the field trip is over. 
 
  • Middle School: Lesson plans for maximizing the farm field trip experience (DC Greens)
 
Have you taken a Farm Fresh field trip recently? TDA would love to hear about it! Email us at 
LocalProducts.SquareMeals@TexasAgriculture.gov .


Farm Fresh Spotlights
Announcing the first group of Texas Community Engagement VISTA members!
Robust recruitment efforts for community engagement VISTA Members have resulted in 3 individuals accepting service opportunities that will place them in Nacogdoches, Kerr and Brooks Counties. These members will begin their 1 year commitment to support TDA's Community Engagement Initiative in their respective County areas on Nov. 14th.
 
Recruitment is still on-going for two remaining positions in Castro and Baylor Counties as well as for a VISTA Lead position in Austin!
 
Know of anyone who may be a great candidate for any of the three remaining positions? Please feel free to share with them that additional information, as well as links to position applications can be found on www.squaremeals.org/JoinAmeriCorps
 
 
Use the Texas Farm Fresh Map of Activity to Help Your Efforts
TDA has an online map of Farm Fresh activities happening across Texas. Information includes Farm to School, Farm to Child Care, Farm to Summer Site and Local Products Challenge participation. TDA also has an online Farm Fresh Network of producers and food companies interested in selling products locally.
 
Whether you are interested in learning about the statewide landscape or what's happening in your area, there are several ways that this information can be used to support your efforts. Here are a couple of ideas:
 
Identify potential selling opportunities
If you are looking for a potential selling outlet for your food products, the Map of Farm Fresh Activity can help you identify which schools, child care centers and summer sites are actively purchasing local products. Use the search function to find a location near your company and within your distribution radius.
 
Identify potential buying opportunities
If you are an organization looking to increase your local purchasing, use the Farm Fresh Network to help find a producer that has the products you need. Each member profile includes a list of available products (including the months available) and distribution capacity.
 
Identify potential support opportunities
If you are supporting a producer, school, child care center or summer site, use both the Map of Farm Fresh Activity and Farm Fresh Network to help identify potential support and purchasing connections. These maps can also help you identify what support may be needed within your organization's area. This information can help you determine future plans to further support local food system development in your area.

Funding Opportunities
USDA Farm to School Grant
USDA recently announced that up to $5 million in grant funds is available to help schools create or strengthen existing farm to school programs. Since its inception in FY 2013, more than $20 million has been awarded through the Farm to School Grant Program. This year, awards ranging from $20,000 to $100,000 will be distributed in four different grant categories: Planning, Implementation, Support Service, and Training. USDA has published this archive copy of the recent webinars that provided additional information about the grant.
 
Special conference call with USDA-SWRO!

Join Southwest Regional Farm to School lead Rachel Spencer
Thursday, Nov. 10th at 2:00 pm (Central) for an overview of USDA Farm to School Grants. This conference call will be interactive, and is exclusively for Texas schools or organizations interested in applying. There will be ample time for questions.
 
Conference Line: 888-844-9904
Passcode: 8565414#
 
Applications are due on grants.gov by Dec. 8, 2016. Go here for more information.
 
Made by Milk Carton Construction Contest

Schools can repurpose empty milk and juice cartons and enter this contest for a chance at cash prizes. The 2016 theme encourages students to turn the cartons into inventions. The grand prize is $5,000 and smaller prizes include one for $2,500 and 12 prizes of $1,000.
 
Visit madebymilkcontest.com for carton care tips, entry kit, contest details and more. 
Contact TDA
 
Alyssa Herold
Coordinator for Farm Fresh Initiatives
 
Emilee Feldhausen
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.