February 2019
Farm Fresh Spotlight Story

Eat Local. Teach Local. Be Social.

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is bringing the Farm Fresh Challenge to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), statewide, this March! TDA contracting entities (CE) operating the CACFP are encouraged to pledge participation in the Challenge by February 18th to receive supportive materials such as static clings, buttons and stickers.

The CACFP Farm Fresh Challenge is a month-long effort to serve more local foods, teach children and older adults about the importance of Texas agriculture, and share this message with families and community members. All challenge participants will receive TDA recognition for their efforts.
CEs interested in participating in this exciting challenge can register at Squaremeals.org/FarmFreshChallengeCACFP .

Farm to School Spotlight
Farm Fresh Fridays
Farm to School Spotlight

Congratulations 2018 Farm Fresh Challenge Participants!

Participants in the 2018 Farm Fresh challenge served more local foods, provided more nutrition education, and shared more posts on social media than ever before! Challenge participants reported spending $5.8 million on local foods served in the cafeteria during the challenge, reaching over 2.8 million students statewide.

A list of school districts that completed the 2018 Farm Fresh Challenge is posted here.  Recognition materials will be distributed to all school districts starting in February.

Since 2013, TDA has recognized Texas school districts for their efforts to incorporate more local foods and Farm Fresh activities into the school day. Open to all TDA contracting entities (CE) in the National School Lunch Program, the Farm Fresh Challenge is a fun and engaging way to celebrate Texas agriculture and the local flavors they add to school menus. Learn more at SquareMeals.org/FarmFreshChallenge.
Farm Fresh Initiative survey for NSLP Participants

The Texas Department of Agriculture is currently collecting information regarding participation in the Farm Fresh Initiative, also known as Farm to School in Texas.
Your response is important for the development of new resources and training. The data you report will be used in the following ways
  • To report on statewide participation in the Farm Fresh Initiative
  • To update the Map of Farm Fresh Projects
  • To evaluate barriers to participation
  • To develop new resources and training to better serve school districts in the state
Thank you for your time. The deadline to complete the survey is March 18, 2019.

Farm to Child Care Spotlight
Kids R Kids Goes to the Farmers Market for Farm Fresh Challenge

A nearby farmers market helped Michael Gonzalez, director of Kids R Kids in Stafford, provide participants with healthy lessons about local foods. Kids R Kids was part of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) 2018 CACFP Farm Fresh Challenge pilot. The director visited a local farmers market to discover new local produce options for his site. Kids R Kids also hosted a Facebook live video stream from the farmers market during the challenge to offer program participants and their families an interactive experience to learn about Texas-grown fruits and vegetables.

Producer Spotlight
Farm Fresh Network Celebrates 100 Member Milestone

The Farm Fresh Network has reached its 100th member milestone! The network spans statewide boasting a wide variety of seasonally available Texas-grown food products. Items such as cucumbers during summer months, broccoli during the winter months, Texas-raised beef, Texas olive oil, and more can all be found for sale by businesses on the Network. Nutrition program operators in National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) can connect directly with Network members to explore ways to include farm fresh, Texas grown foods in their meals and snacks.

The Farm Fresh Network offers a searchable online map that shows the locations and contact information for Texas producers who are currently selling products to child nutrition programs, along with those producers interested in getting started. Clicking on the red pin while viewing the map of network members also displays product availability and distribution radius information. The network is a key part of the TDA's Farm Fresh Initiative, which takes a multi-pronged approach to incorporating more local foods and other Farm Fresh activities into child nutrition programs.

Check out the searchable map of TDA's Farm Fresh Network members here .

Farmer Veteran Coalition Fund Application to Open February 1

Farmer Veteran Coalition is excited to announce the application for the 2019 Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund will open February 1 at 8 a.m. PST. The application will remain open for five weeks before closing on March 8 at 5 p.m. PST.
The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund is a small grant program that provides veterans with awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to make purchases they have identified will make a crucial difference in the launch of their farm business.
TAMUC Small Scale Producer Research

Texas A&M University-Commerce (TAMUC) is collecting data for research on small scale producers. Small scale producers, 18 years of age or older are invited to participate in a brief survey, which is an analysis of processing and marketing techniques used by small scale farmers. Through the collection of this data, TAMUC hopes to publish research on small scale producers to encourage more practice in this area. Click this link to take you to the survey: https://tamuc.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6yYfmCkjKPWe9Eh   
Your participation is greatly valued!

Welcome to the Farm Fresh Network!

We would like to welcome two new members of the TDA Farm Fresh Network - Reinventing the Weal, LLC, and Elliott Grows, LLC.

Reinventing the Weal, LLC is an organic hydroponic farm in Amarillo, TX. They currently specialize in growing greens, micro-greens, herbs, and edible flowers for restaurants and the general public.

Elliott Grows, LLC owners, Stephen and Mary Elliott, grow hydroponic lettuce, herbs and tomatoes available year round.

Visit Squaremeals.org/FarmFreshNetwork for more information about TDA's Farm Fresh Network.

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.