April 2016
8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Keynote Speakers Announced

The keynote speakers for the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference are instrumental leaders driving this movement forward. From rebuilding local food systems to changing national food policy, their diverse experiences and expertise will inform, inspire and energize. Keynote addresses will be given by:
Ricardo SalvadorDirector and Senior Scientist, Food & Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists 
Salvador works with citizens, scientists, economists and politicians to transition our current food system into one that grows healthy foods while employing sustainable and socially equitable practices.

Carla D. ThompsonVice President for Program Strategy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation 
A recognized leader in early childhood education, Thompson heads the Education & Learning; Family Economic Security; and Food, Health & Well-Being teams for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, providing leadership for the creative and strategic direction of programming.

Matthew RaifordExecutive Chef, Farmer/Owner of Gilliard Farms 
Raiford is a chef/farmer and owner of The Farmer & The Larder, a culinary mixed use space located in Historic Downtown Brunswick, Georgia. He is a sixth generation farmer with his siblings on his family's land that they have owned since 1874.

LaDonna RedmondFood Justice Activist, Campaign for Food Justice Now 
When Redmond couldn't find healthful food in her Chicago neighborhood, she decided to rebuild the urban food system. Collaborating with the farmers' market, food distribution network and urban farms led to a grassroots movement of citywide - and then nationwide - conversations about food justice.

Also invited: Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director, Let's Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition to the White House, and video remarks by Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States.

Spotlight of the Month
Perfect Peach Award Celebrations
TDA announced the winners of the Perfect Peach Awards last month, and the schools and districts who participated are celebrating their successes. In all, TDA recognized 65 National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participants for participating in the Local Product Challenge and serving local ingredients from three or more meal components during the month of October.

Go here to read more about how schools are celebrating this achievement.

Calling all aspiring young artists! TDA Student Art Competition

Texas students in grades K-12 are encouraged to submit original artwork to showing how they "Vote for a Winning Lunch" or "Take the Breakfast Challenge." The winning piece of art will be showcased in cafeteria posters that will be distributed to all schools in Texas.

The deadline is 5 p.m. May 20, 2016
Slow Food USA Ark of Taste Garden Project
The Ark of Taste is a living catalog of delicious and culturally significant foods facing extinction. By identifying and championing these foods, we keep them in production and on our plates. The Ark of Taste Gardens project engages classrooms in growing these special seeds in order to taste the wonderful food they produce. This year, Slow Food is excited to share two different types of Ark of Taste potatoes: Makah Ozette and Bodega Red. Request your seed potatoes here.

New Resources
ATTRA Publication Details Success Stories for Scaling Up Local Food Production; Online Tutorial Also Available
The growing demand for fresh, local food among institutions, including schools and hospitals, is creating new markets for smaller-scale farms and food companies. However, it is not always easy to scale up production to meet the requirements of larger clients. A recent ATTRA publication, "Scaling Up for Institutional Markets: Midwest Case Studies," profiles two types of institutional food buyers working to bring fresh, local, and regional food to institutions-a farm to college food service with locations nationwide and a local food aggregator in northeast Iowa. Although the institutions are located in the Midwest, the lessons from this free publication can be applied across the country.

You can find the publication here. While you're there, check out the popular free ATTRA online tutorial course " Scaling Up for Regional Markets".

New Garden-Based Education Resource
Teaching in Nature's Classroom: Core Principles of Garden-Based Education
In this publication, veteran farm and garden educator Nathan Larson shares a philosophy of teaching in the garden using 15 guiding principles and engaging stories from the field. The book features vivid paintings by mural artist Becky Redelings, an inspiring foreword by Whitney Cohen of Life Lab, and connections to the research literature provided by Alex Wells and Dr. Sam Dennis of the Environmental Design Lab at UW-Madison.

A free ebook and paperback edition is currently available. Visit the Wisconsin School Garden Network at www.wischoolgardens.org to learn more about this publication.

USDA Releases Digital Platform for Market News
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) hosted a webinar on an exciting new initiative to provide unbiased market data to users digitally. The Market Analysis & Reporting Services (MARS), provides dynamic, innovative technology to assist USDA Market News in collecting and distributing information electronically from remote locations by combining reporting from all commodity areas (including Livestock, Specialty Crops, and Dairy) into a single platform. MARS allows for more data availability, better analysis, and improved information availability sooner for more agricultural markets in one easy-to-use tool. USDA Market News makes our nation's commodity markets one of the most transparent in the world and provides critical market intelligence.

Funding Opportunities
TDA Accepting Equipment Grant Applications
The application period is open for the 2016 National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Equipment Assistance Grants for School Food Authorities. These grants are authorized by the FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations Act for NSLP participants. Grants will allow School Food Authorities (SFAs) to purchase nonexpendable, tangible property with a useful life of more than one year and a per-unit acquisition cost of $5,000 or more. TDA will use a competitive grant process to distribute a total of $3,726,177 among Texas schools that best fit the consideration requirements. Learn more here.

This year, USDA has a new initiative with the National Football League and National Dairy Council's Fuel Up to Play 60 program to offer school nutrition equipment grants of up to $5,000 in total value for the 2016-2017 school year. The online application is now open. The deadline to apply is Thursday, June 30, 2016. For more information about the $5 million in grant funding available through the Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative, please visit www.FuelUptoPlay60.com.

The Chef Ann Foundation, in partnership with Skoop, is accepting applications for Project Produce: Fruit and Veggie Grants for Schools, a program that aims to expand students' palates and encourage increased consumption of and exposure to fresh produce. Grants of up $2,500 will be awarded to school districts for programs that engage students in lunchroom education activities that encourage students to taste new vegetables and fruits offered either in a dish, cooked or raw. Grant funds must be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables to support each school's planned Project Produce programming. In addition, the majority of the produce must be locally accessible and at a price point affordable to all households.

Any district or independent school participating in the National School Lunch Program is eligible to apply. Applications must be submitted by the school district's food-service director. Districts may apply for up to 10 schools at $2,500 per school. The foundation accepts applications on an ongoing basis. For complete program guidelines and application instructions, go to www.thelunchbox.org/programs/grants.

USDA Farm to School Grant Update
The Child Nutrition Act, the authorizing legislation for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, is currently in the reauthorization process in Congress. The most recent version passed by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry includes changes that would increase funding and widen the scope of the grant program. In anticipation of possible change, USDA will release the FY 2017 Request for Applications in September 2016, with proposals due in November. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
Available Training
Farm to School Online Course   (for schools)
This training is intended for school nutrition program team members and others who are interested in bringing farm to school to their districts or campuses. Information presented during this training is introductory in nature and will lay the groundwork for future training and discussions about farm to school activities.  Go here for the training.

Selling to Schools: Texas Food Companies Decision Tool  (for farmers, ranchers and food companies)
There are several avenues for selling food products to Texas schools. This tool will help guide companies through two considerations when deciding if school food service is a good marketplace for their products and provide information about how to sell food products to schools. Go here for the decision tool.

USDA Farm to School: Planning for Farm to School Success  (archive copies of webinar presentations)
Through this 11-part series of 30 minute webinars, USDA guides you through the USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit. Webinars will include considerations and helpful resources to reference when starting or growing a farm to school program. Guest speakers will join the webinars to share their hands on farm to school experiences. Go here for the archive webinars.

Contact TDA
Alyssa Herold
Coordinator for Farm Fresh Initiatives
Emilee Feldhausen
Farm Fresh Specialist

(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.