Final thoughts: Learning, networking and inspiration in Madison

Posted by on Jun 20, 2016 in Latest News | 0 comments

The 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference brought together 1,040 stakeholders representing diverse professional backgrounds and communities from across the United States and internationally for three days of learning, networking and inspiration in Madison, Wis., in June 2016. The conference theme, Moving Forward Together, was felt throughout the event, from First Lady Michelle Obama’s video remarks challenging us not to take our foot off the gas when it comes to public health, to Ricardo Salvador’s call to change the culture of exploitation in the food system, and throughout the hallways in between sessions as people hatched new partnerships and ideas to continue the momentum toward a healthy, just and sustainable food system for all. Feedback is already rolling in! “The most professionally valuable conference I have ever attended. And I go to a lot…” – Wendy Peters Moschetti, Director of Food Systems, LiveWell Colorado “I really think this was the best one yet!! There was just so much to choose from that there was something for everyone. One of the unique values of a national conference is to elevate and advance the conversation around certain issues. Food justice is of national importance and the speakers chosen did a great job of making this important issue relevant to everyone in the room.” – Christina Conell, USDA Office of Community Food Systems “Just wanted to thank you again for the excellent adventure. Our children are already benefiting from what we learned. Thanks so much for all you did for us!” – A and M Childcare LLC, Texas #Farm2Caf16 is coming to a close, but the work will never cease. TY @FarmtoSchool for an invigorating conference. pic.twitter.com/yvwyV4Vn8g — Erin Kennedy Hysom (@EKennedy_MPH_RD) June 4, 2016 Read more about the conference on our day 1, day 2 and day 3 blog recaps. See social media highlights on our Storify and view pictures from the conference on Flickr. Thank you to all of our partners and sponsors who made this event a success, especially the Local Planning Committee led by local hosts: Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; and Community...

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Day 3 Recap: Moving forward together

Posted by on Jun 5, 2016 in Latest News | 0 comments

On our final day together at the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, attendees flooded Dane County Farmers’ Market, the country’s largest producer-only farmers market, on the Capitol Square. Supporting local farmers and a local food economy is at the heart of our work, and Wisconsin offers an inspiring display of a vibrant and connected local food system. The morning opened with a multi-media presentation showcasing farm to cafeteria champions from across Wisconsin. Emceed by Tony Schultz, Farmer, Stoney Acres Farm, and Frankie Soto, Food Service Director, Abbotsford School District Food Service, attendees heard stories of success from farm to cafeteria partners including farmers, school food service directors, a hospital dietician and a local co-op manager. Farmer Chris Blakeney, Amazing Grace Family Farm, shared that his successful partnerships in selling to schools allowed him to quit his full-time, off farm job. Saturday’s program included two workshop sessions. A total of 48, 90-minute workshops organized into 12 topics were offered during the conference. Among Saturday’s workshops were conversations and hands-on learning opportunities for training classroom educators to be strong school garden users, curricula ideas for early care and education providers, and tips for navigating federal, state and local policy landscapes to maximize farm to cafeteria efforts. Our food conference would not have been complete without delicious meals featuring locally sourced ingredients. During Saturday’s lunch, we gave a standing ovation to Monona Catering in thanks for serving our 1,000+ attendees fresh, locally sourced meals. Saturday’s lunch included Wisconsin Rice and Wisconsin Cranberry Salad, a local bean salad, roasted local root vegetables, and chilled asparagus soup. Throughout the conference, we asked attendees to use paper plates to share what they love about farm to school and what child nutrition programs mean to their community. With the Child Nutrition Reauthorization process moving forward, now is an important time to take action and share with Congress why school meals are important. Soon, we’ll deliver these paper plates to legislators on Capitol Hill, sending a message that farm to school and school lunch programs are growing a healthier next generation. Open Forum, a perennial conference favorite, was held on Saturday afternoon. Open Forum gave attendees the opportunity to create discussion groups around the topics they’re most passionate about. Ideas were submitted and voted on using the conference mobile app. More than 20 discussion topics were selected, including state farm to school policy, farm to summer, forming a farm to college network, farm incubator start ups, state agencies in farm to cafeteria, and using farm to school to drive racial equity. The Closing Plenary included keynote addresses from two food movement leaders who shared inspirational stories and lessons about creating strong and just local food systems. Matthew Raiford, Executive...

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Photos posted!

Posted by on Jun 4, 2016 in Latest News | 0 comments

Photos of the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference are now live on Flickr! See all of the fun from our incredible keynote speakers to dancing fruit and vegetables at the Opening Procession and more. Our thanks go out to the talented photographer Emma Cassidy for her enthusiasm for farms and good food for all. Find more highlights from the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria conference on our social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Storify. Follow along with the hashtag #Farm2Caf16. SEE MORE PHOTOS ON OUR FLICKR...

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Day 2 Recap: Growing the farm to cafeteria movement

Posted by on Jun 4, 2016 in Latest News | 0 comments

The first full day of the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference kicked off on Friday, with more than 1,000 food service professionals, farmers, educators, policy makers, entrepreneurs, students, representatives from nonprofits and government agencies, public health professionals, and many others in attendance. The day started with regional networking sessions, where neighboring states met to build relationships, share ideas and resources, and fuel the farm to cafeteria initiatives in their regions. Immediately following the networking sessions, regions processed together from their rooms to the opening plenary – and with great fanfare! The festive procession was led by a local marching band, dancing produce and a very large chicken. Madison preschoolers with vegetable crowns danced on stage and welcomed attendees as they arrived. The opening plenary was kicked off by Anupama Joshi, National Farm to School Network Executive Director and Co-founder. Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition to the White House, was the first keynote speaker to take the stage. As one of the farm to cafeteria movement’s true innovators, Eschmeyer’s address reviewed and celebrated the impressive growth that the farm to school movement has achieved in less than two decades. “I am deeply encouraged by our collective progress. In this next phase, we need to be even more creative and innovation. This is not some trendy issue. This is something we have to stay committed to for the long haul,” she said. “If we keep working together, we’ll give all children access to fresh healthy food.” -Debra Eschmeyer First Lady Michelle Obama sent video remarks, celebrating all of the great work this movement has accomplished, and challenging us to think about what’s next. To the First Lady, we say, we’re not going anywhere, and we look forward to continuing this work with you. Carla Thompson, Vice President for Program Strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Ricardo Salvadro, Director and Senior Scientist, Food & Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists, also offered keynote addresses. Salvador discussed how disparities in public healthy, access, waste and exploitation of people and nature are characteristic of the global food system, and challenged us to use justice as the screen through which we do our farm to cafeteria work. Following lunch, conference goers viewed 45 posters highlighting exciting projects, innovations, research and trends in the farm to cafeteria movement. Shortly after, 28 presenters offered fast-paced, information-dense, five minutes lightning talks, from building school gardens into social enterprises to how school districts are leading the charge to reform poultry production in the U.S. The afternoon included two workshop sessions. A total of 48 workshops organized into 12 topical tracks will be offered throughout the conference. These interactive sessions...

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Day 1 Recap: Exploring farm to cafeteria in Madison

Posted by on Jun 3, 2016 in Latest News | 0 comments

The National Farm to School Network is hosting the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Madison, Wis., and pre-conference activities kicked off Thursday with hundreds of leaders in the farm to cafeteria movement exploring the Madison area food system and farm to institution landscape. From aquaponics to urban farms and hospitals to college campuses, more than 370 pre-conference attendees experienced Wisconsin’s farm to cafeteria initiatives first hand through 10 local field trips. One group of learners explored Wisconsin’s deep roots in dairy as they traveled to farms and processors who bring milk, cheese and other dairy products to institutional markets. Stops included a tour and tasting at Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, a farm-based education experience at Sassy Cow Creamery and a visit to an Organic Valley dairy farm. Another group explored innovative youth gardens across the Madison area that strive to cultivate healthy youth and vibrant communities. Among the stops was Goodman Youth Farm, a community nonprofit/school district partnership program that actively engages students in hands-on, farm-based education in an outdoor classroom. Youth are involved in the entire process of running a small-scale organic farm, from growing, harvesting, cooking and donating thousands of pounds of produce. Back at Monona Terrace Convention Center, another 250 pre-conference attendees gathered for advanced short course trainings with movement experts from the Wallace Center, National Farmers Union, Chef Ann Foundation, Center for Social Inclusion, Spark Policy Institute, Vermont FEED, Farm to Institution New England and more. Courses included trainings on implementing farm to school practices and operations in school kitchens, starting cooperatives, and building racial equity in farm to cafeteria and wider food systems, among others. The short course on network development welcomed farm to cafeteria practitioners from across the country to share and explore models of collaboration and coordination for creating state-level farm to cafeteria networks. With presenters from Colorado, Vermont and Wisconsin, a range of experiences were shared in describing the formation and success of various network models. At the end of the course, participants brainstormed ingredients for success in building effective farm to cafeteria collaborations. As the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference program kicks off on Friday, we’re welcoming more than 1,000 food service professionals, farmers, educators, policy makers, entrepreneurs, students and youth leaders, representatives from nonprofits, public health professionals, and others to Madison for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn, share, network and build momentum for the farm to cafeteria movement. Among them are the next generation of farm to cafeteria leaders, including students Christina Plyman, Trinity Sinkhorn and Kara Shelton. Accompanied by their teach Toni Myers, they traveled from Boyle County High School in Kentucky to present their farm to school successes and learnings as a National Farm...

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Welcome from Anupama Joshi

Posted by on May 31, 2016 in Latest News | 0 comments

Greetings conference attendees, Welcome to Madison and the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference! We couldn’t be more excited about the incredible lineup of presenters and workshops that will fill the following several days, the opportunities to get to know your partners in this work, and the creative ideas that will germinate in Madison and take root in your communities into the future. This event is an opportunity to learn from your colleagues across the spectrum of the farm to cafeteria movement – in schools, hospitals, universities, government agencies, childcare centers, food hubs and more. It’s this cross-pollination of ideas and settings that inspired this year’s conference theme: Moving Forward Together. Whether you are learning about building networks or local procurement strategies, I challenge you to think about how innovative partnerships will help us build the momentum necessary to ensure long-term sustainability for local food efforts nationwide. As you arrive into town, we hope you take advantage of the vibrant local food culture and scenic location that Madison offers us this year. Go by bike with Madison BCycle, visit the nation’s largest producer-only farmers market or take a walk along Lake Monona with a new friend. The moments in between workshop sessions will be some of the most valuable, so come ready to engage in new conversations and experiences throughout the week. Thank you to our local partners who have shaped this conference to be a valuable and fun opportunity for all of us. Special recognition goes to our fantastic and hard-working local hosts, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; and Community GroundWorks. On behalf of the entire National Farm to School Network, and our local hosts, welcome to Madison! Sincerely, Anupama Joshi Executive Director and Co-Founder National Farm to School...

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