Texas Farm Fresh E-Harvest, February 2016 issue
March 2016
Register Now! Early Bird Prices for National Farm to Cafeteria Conference available through March 31.
The 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference will be held in Madison, Wisconsin, June 2-4, 2016. This event is a national gathering of stakeholders from across the farm to cafeteria movement, making it a crucial leadership development opportunity to advance community health, build economic opportunities for farmers and producers, and ensure long-term sustainability for local food efforts nationwide.

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.

Read more about the competition here.
Spotlight of the Month
Early Success of the Farm Fresh Network
As farm fresh activities take off in Texas, more schools, summer meal sites and child care centers are introducing local products and garden-based learning to the cafeteria and the classroom. TDA's Texas Farm Fresh Network launched in October 2015 as a way to directly connect organizations interested in purchase more local food with the farmers, ranchers and food companies that produce it.

Farm to School
USDA School Garden Fact Sheet
School gardens can be as simple as a few containers on a windowsill or as extensive as 100 rows on acres of land. School leaders find that even small gardens help children gain familiarity and comfort with the fruits and vegetables they are seeing in the cafeteria. Just in time for spring, this new fact sheet provides guidance on using school garden produce in the cafeteria, planning for food safety needs, incorporating gardens into summer meal programs and early child care settings, and successfully sustaining garden efforts.

Farm to Child Care
Web pages dedicated to Farm to Child Care
TDA has launched new resources on the SquareMeals website to help sponsors, centers and day care homes incorporate more local ingredients into meals and snacks, establish container or in-ground gardens and connect young Texans with agriculture through activities. Resources are available to with menu planning, procurement, food safety and boosting meal appeal.

Available Training

Farm to School Regional Workshops
There are still opportunities to attend an upcoming Farm to School: Amplifying Communities workshop! The workshops will include a track of trainings for both schools and producers. A dedicated peer-to-peer networking opportunity is also scheduled so that schools and farmers have an opportunity to meet local partners. The workshops are open to all Texas schools and food companies interested in selling to schools. Please register for the workshop that is most convenient.

Houston March 30 ESC Region 4 Website:
ESC Region 4 Website:
Corpus Christi April 20
Kilgore April 27 1.) click on the School Nutrition Personnel link
2.) click on either "Farm to School for School Nutrition" or "Farm to School for Producers"

Please share this training opportunity with networks that may be interested in attending any of these workshops.

  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.
USDA Funding Update
Fuel Up to Play 60 School Nutrition Equipment Grant
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.

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.

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.