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Showing posts from March, 2019

Spring into action

While the value of daylight savings time is debated, an extra hour of sunshine feels good. There is a whole lot of planning happening right now. Not only are we planning what we’ll grow this year, many are planning what’s next in the farm to school movement.

Next month, a few people from Minnesota will be attending the National Farm to School Network’s Annual Meeting where one of the stated goals is “...establishing a robust strategic plan for NFSN in 2020 and beyond.” In addition, the Farm to School Leadership Team is updating its priorities and work for the next three years.

Share your ideas. What success should the movement build upon? What needs greater attention? Send your thoughts to: farmtoschool@umn.edu.

We hope you enjoy this latest newsletter filled with potential actions. Spring will be here soon!
Minnesota’s Farm to School Leadership Team

Gain Knowledge about Food Regulations and Local Food

Contributed by: Jane Jewett, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture

Maybe ignorance is bliss, but sometimes lack of knowledge about food regulations holds people back or trips them up in efforts to get more local food into school lunches.

A new project aims to change that.  Called “Blazing Trails through the Jungle of Food Regulations,” it will bring training about food regulations and how they affect local food systems to every county in Minnesota in 2019 and 2020.

Training topics include the framework of food regulations; exclusions and exemptions from licensing; food licensing, license types, and fees; agency jurisdiction; and how to avoid getting stuck in the system.

Trainers are from the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association, and Renewing the Countryside. The project is funded by a grant from the North Central Region of Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE).

Local organizers are wanted i…

State Policy—Now is the Time!

Contributed by: Erin McKee, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Minnesota’s legislative session is in full swing, and a group of stakeholders from around the state have been working hard to pass state level policy supporting Farm to School & Early Care. Now is a pivotal moment for their effort. Building on examples from several other states, their bills HF811/SF1346 would reimburse schools and early care settings around the state for purchases of local foods (up to a certain amount based on number of meals served), support education around food and farming, and provide technical assistance to start or expand a Farm to School or Early Care program.

The bills have strong bipartisan support, and are recognized as a bridge issue positively impacting urban and rural communities, kids, farmers and communities. So far, the bills have had positive momentum: they have passed the House Agriculture Committee and Senate Agriculture Policy Committee, and are waiting to have a hearing sc…

School Garden Food Safety: Got questions? We can help!

Contributed by: Anne Sawyer, University of Minnesota Extension
Do you have questions about food safety in your school garden? If so, we are here to help!

Anne Sawyer and Annalisa Hultberg are University of Minnesota Extension Educators in On-Farm Food Safety. We help Minnesota produce farmers and gardeners reduce risks of contamination that can lead to foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella or Norovirus, in fresh produce. Produce can be contaminated from animal or human feces (think unwashed/poorly washed hands, bird droppings, etc.), dirty water, or dirty tools and surfaces. If contaminated produce is eaten raw, it could make people very sick. Fortunately, there are several simple steps that you can take to minimize the risk of foodborne illness in your school garden!

Food safety is especially important in a school setting, where young people may be eating the produce. If you are growing produce for a food shelf, school cafeteria, or sending it home with families, it is essential t…

New Minnesota Department of Defense (DoD) Fresh Vendor

Contributed by: Sami Burington, Minnesota Department of Education

If you’re a school, do you participate in the DoD Fresh Program? This is the only way you can use your USDA entitlement dollars to purchase fresh produce. Did you know Minnesota has a new DoD Fresh vendor? H. Brooks & Company now services all schools in Minnesota. And did you know you can purchase local produce through the DoD Fresh? The DoD Fresh ordering catalog (FFAVORS) indicates the source of supply as ‘local’ and includes the state of origin. Here is an example:

Learn more about H. Brooks & Company’s local growers. If you have any specific questions, Mai Bushinski is the customer service representative from H. Brooks & Company. You can reach her at mai.bushinski@hbrooks.com. If you’re a grower interested in working with H. Brooks, Chad Schwandt is the buyer specialist and can be reached at chad.schwandt@hbrooks.com.