National Farm to School Network

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Recognized as a top National Childhood Nutrition/Health nonprofit in the following years:
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Medal-big-2010
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"Up" is the number of experts who agree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in the field. "Down" is the number of experts who disagree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in field.
National-farm-to-school-network
Headquarters Location: Los Angeles, CA
Founded: 1996


Mission: The National Farm to School Network increases access to local food and nutrition education to improve children's health, strengthen family farms, and cultivate vibrant communities.


Tags: national, childhood nutrition & health, nutrition programs, information services, education, healthy schools, family farms, obesity, policy, advocacy, agriculture, 2010


National-farm-to-school-network
Story: Origins of the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) date back to the National Farm to School Program, led by the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI), Occidental College, involving seven partners including the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC), supported… Read the full story.

Expert Reviews: Evidence of Impact
The National Farm to School Network is recognized for their reach, the diversity of their services, and the ability to unite different players to improve health outcomes.
See the complete expert review.

Financial Data
Total Revenue:
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From the Nonprofit


Dec 16, 2010
See our video site: http://www.video.farmtoschool.org Read More.



Dec 16, 2010
The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is a collaborative project of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College and the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC). The National Farm to School Network envisions a nation in which Farm… Read More.



Contact Info
E-Mail:
Phone:
323-341-5095
Facebook:
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Address:
1600 Campus Road, MS-M1
 
Los Angeles, CA 90041, USA
Twitter:
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National-farm-to-school-network Story: Origins of the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) date back to the National Farm to School Program, led by the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI), Occidental College, involving seven partners including the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC), supported through a USDA grant (2000-04). To meet the growing interest in Farm to School, and to ensure that communities had access to resources and information already developed and were not reinventing the wheel, UEPI and CFSC convened a team of about thirty experts from across the nation to explore the opportunities for a collaborative structure that strengthened and expanded Farm to School activities. This constituted the planning phase of the NFSN. In 2007, the NFSN was formally initiated with four national staff, eight Regional Lead Agencies, Regional Steering Committees and a set of 12-15 members as Advisors and Partners of the NFSN. We undertook a Strategic Planning process in 2009-10, which has helped articulate our plans for expansion into the next phase.

NFSN has been able to provide legitimacy to Farm to School efforts across the country. Ten years back, the Farm to School concept was not recognized even within school food or agriculture professionals. In 2010, Farm to School programs are operational in all 50 states. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has initiated a Farm to School Team, who is collaborating with NFSN to address administrative barriers to Farm to School. NFSN’s launch of “Bearing Fruit,” a report on Farm to School impacts, has helped secure buy-in from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which now recognizes Farm to School as a community-based solution to obesity prevention. Support for legislation supporting Farm to School exists at the federal level through Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010, as well as at state level where more than 33 states have supportive policies that encourage Farm to School programs.

Expert Reviews of National Farm to School Network

Evidence of Impact Summary:

The National Farm to School Network is recognized for their reach, the diversity of their services, and the ability to unite different players to improve health outcomes.
See expert comments.

Organization Strengths Summary:

Experts most often praised the organization's leadership and staff. The group's organizational structure was also cited as a major asset.
See expert comments.

Areas for Improvement Summary:

Respondents note multiple areas for improvement that center on growth including funding, capacity, and scalability. Others mention things like mission focus, messaging, and programming.
See expert comments.

Expert Comments: Evidence of Impact

Select the boxes to display the results according to expert type.

Show:
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Foundation Professionals (F)
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Researchers and Faculty (R)
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Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
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Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Impact

F
They have achieved broad reach and movement on policy indicators.
R
They help coordinate and provide technical assistance and policy development for farm to school, which is one of the major breakthroughs in creating a healthy school food environment.
R
This network is helping schools across the country make food and nutrition fun and easy because they are providing the technical assistance and resources to help schools get good produce into their school food service, while providing good nutrition education strategies (including school gardening) that can help make lifelong change.
N
They have a broad reach (nationally), work with a variety of professionals that directly influence child eating habits, making big systems changes, and not just focusing on nutritional analysis. They bring together multiple sectors to address child nutrition and health systemically and holistically.
N
They have had an influence on national, state, and regional policies affecting school food and nutrition.
N
They are rallying hundreds (and thousands) of community-based, high impact people across the country to work on local and healthy foods issues to address re-building local supply chains. The growth of this Farm to School movement has been exponential over the past five years and I believe it has demonstrated potential for incredibly high impact on revolutionizing the supply chain to schools. In order to get healthy foods to schools we need to interrupt the current supply chain which is dominated by huge national companies who do not have our children's health as their priority. They are redeveloping local supply chains is having and will continue to have an enormous impact on changing the food supply to our schools and other sites where children learn and/or are cared for. It's not enough to want to have healthy foods in our schools; we must be able to get it!
N
I have seen this organization grown from a few disconnected advocates across the country to a well-established network of organizations and advocates working around a common agenda. They consistently develop excellent resources to support local action and have been effective in pushing a national policy agenda.
N
This organization has grown exponentially over the last few years and has provided a voice, venue, and opportunity for farmers and school districts to find one another and work together.
N
This organization has organized and grown the F2S movement across the country through capital investment in programs and people, research, networking, sharing, communicating, and training.
N
They are creating a widespread national network, working directly in schools. Also their leadership is moving forward with other initiatives to tackle the issue in a variety of ways (for example Food Corps as a sub unit of AmeriCorps) and thus are using already existing entities as partners in creating more healthy children.


Expert Comments: Organization Strengths

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Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
X
Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
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Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Leadership

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They provide key sector leadership, strong staff, strong regional and local partners and aligned action, strong relationships with key agency, and policy leaders throughout the nation.
N
They have outstanding leadership, vision, and have been at the forefront of fighting childhood obesity, and providing healthier meals in school.
N
They are leading the efforts to bring healthier, locally-grown foods to schools.
N
They focus on a lovable niche issue which makes it easy for them to get positive media attention for their work. They have a small enough network that they are the experts known to all who follow their work.
R
They have a phenomenal director, Anupama Joshi, who is extremely well-versed in this area and knows how provide information and resources across a range of audiences. Other staff like Deb Eschmeyer are wonderful communicators. They also have some really good publications and resources that they make available.
N
Their leadership has been strong, consistent and passionate! The organization is financially efficient for the incredible impact it is having and I appreciate that.

Program Design

N
Farm to School is a win-win that rebuilds our school food system and changes how children choose and value healthy foods.
N
Their focus on healthy children is their primary concern. They have been fairly successful in creating lasting programs to educate students.

Collaboration

N
This organization is not super funded and has had tremendous impact when compared to organizations that are funded at much higher levels. I think of it as a highly efficient and effective group - two characteristics that I personally admire. It is fostering "a movement," not just a program or initiative. The ground swell of activity across the country is amazing to watch grow and in such a short time. Its leaders are brilliant, gracious, humble, and highly collaborative. They surround themselves with excellent thinkers and do-ers. They inspire others, help all they can, are realistic about what they can and cannot do, do not try to control the projects across the country, but instead they nurture and let them "grow wild," so to speak... which is at is should be in truly community-owned work. Community-owned work is where the solutions to childhood obesity lie - so national groups that are able to figure out how to be empowering and catalytic vs. controlling will have the greatest impact for dollar spent. Farm to School embodies this concept and achieves this well. Most of the other groups have so much more money than they need and spend more money promoting themselves than they do empowering and catalyzing others across the country.
N
Their strengths are in their ability to communicate, educate, and mobilize the grassroots to make change happen on a community level. They do good work at the national policy level, and support members making changes in local policy.
N
This is a partnership organization that models collaboration. They work with organizations around the country to partner and broaden the impact of their work. They are emerging as the leader in connecting health issues to larger community issues including our agriculture economy. They demonstrate true collaborative leadership, allowing grassroots initiatives to lead, and addressing nutrition as a food access issue, therefore also tackling hunger issues simultaneously.
N
Occidental College and Community Food Security Coalition collaborate on this project and do a good job sharing the responsibilities and communicating.

Resources

R
They are well organized. They have strong participation across eight regional lead organizations (so active throughout the country).

Organization

N
Regional organizing structure maintains leaders in core regions of the country. This ensures outreach and modification of activities to meet the unique needs of different areas. The strong relationships with food service representatives and an understanding of the skills and culture needed to continue to build relationships with them.
N
They have an effective structure for supporting activity across the country. They are strong leaders and have an inclusive decision making structure.

Staff

N
This organization has a phenomenal, experienced staff. A particular strength is their media and grassroots outreach.


Expert Comments: Areas for Improvement

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Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
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Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
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Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Funding

N
They could improve with more resources to coordinate technical assistance.
N
This organization would benefit from funding which would allow grassroots lobbying and allow them to function as an independent organization. Right now, the organization is a project of the Community Food Security Coalition and Occidental College.
N
Their funding is always an issue, deciding what direct service to provide and what to fund for others to provide.

Messaging

N
They could improve if they could market to new stakeholders, promote the network itself, and persuade the mainstream that Farm to School can be bigger than the image of a farmer dropping off apples at a single school in a small town.
N
The network is working on both breadth and depth of this work, and it may lead to diluting the power of their message. They need to be careful to not be so inclusive in their decision-making that it stalls moving forward.

Mission Focus

R
This is an evolving organization, with multiple partners. It needs to secure its own core identity (and organizational form) while still facilitating the work of its multiple participants.

Integrate Programming

R
They have an incredible knowledge of the different strategies that are out there to make farm to school work. They have good evaluations of farm to school. They could probably better coordinate some of the toolkits that they have make them a bit more in detail, and perhaps broken down by rural versus urban areas or something. But that's more of a project. Like other non-profits doing good work, they are stretched thin if they could further develop good staff who know as much as Anupama and Deb it would help all of us out here.

Scalability

N
The National Farm to School Network could have significantly more impact if they were able to scale up.

Capacity

N
This organization should add a couple more people to top level leadership - they could use some help.

Expand Programming

N
Their work could have a more significant impact if they were to find ways to work with families, not just students. Their curriculum/work in schools should focus more fully on sustainability and systems thinking in order to more thoroughly create an environment of genuine understanding in the schools, farmers, and communities that they partner with.


Leadership

National-farm-to-school-network

National Farm to School Network

Nourishing Kids and Communities


The National Farm to School Network sprouted from the desire to support community-based food systems, strengthen family farms, and improve student health by reducing childhood obesity. The Network is a collaborative of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College and the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC). The Network coordinates, promotes and expands Farm to School at the state, regional and national levels. Eight regional lead agencies and national staff provide free training and technical assistance, information services, networking, and support for policy, media and marketing activities. The Farm to School approach helps children understand where their food comes from and how their food choices impact their bodies, the environment and their communities at large.

The Network’s Regional Lead Agencies:
National Staff:

Anupama Joshi is Co-Director of the National Farm to School Network. Ms. Joshi is a recognized leader in the field of Farm to School research and evaluation, including school gardens, an expert on local food systems, and a long-time food justice advocate, having recently co-authored a book on the topic “Food Justice” (Gottlieb & Joshi, MIT Press, October 2010). Ms. Joshi leads a Farm to School Research & Evaluation Group, which includes researchers and practitioners from across the country to think about priorities for research in this rapidly growing field. The team created a national research agenda, which has been shared with USDA and CDC. Ms. Joshi has over fifteen years of experience working on nutrition, agriculture and food systems issues in various countries around the world. She has worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand; the Pesticide Action Network; and consulted with various non-profit organizations in Asia. She is a past board member of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers in Davis, CA and is a member of the Society for Nutrition Education. She holds a M.S. in Food & Nutrition from the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda, India.

Marion Kalb is Co-Director of the National Farm to School Network and has worked on Farm to School issues since 2001. She spearheaded efforts to convene the first National Farm to Cafeteria Conference as well as over 20 Farm to School events nationwide. Ms. Kalb has testified at Congressional briefings and advocated successfully for the use of local preferences by food service staff. Working with the USDA Food & Nutrition Service and the Agricultural Marketing Service, she assisting in developing a “how-to” manual for food service, Eat Smart - Farm Fresh! A Guide to Buying and Serving Locally-Grown Produce in School Meals. She is also the co-author of Delivering More: Scaling up Farm to School Programs. Ms. Kalb’s work is highlighted in Temra Costa’s book, Farmer Jane. Marion spent 10 years as the Executive Director of Southland Farmers’ Market Association, organizing over 20 Certified Farmers’ Markets in the Los Angeles area. With a bachelor’s degree in Political Economy, and a Master’s in Urban and Rural Planning, Marion joined the Peace Corps, and worked with the United Nations, Food & Agriculture Organization, as an agriculture extension agent in Gabon, Central Africa. She has worked over 25 years on food and farming issues, with a strong emphasis on state and federal policy.

Debra Eschmeyer is the Founder and Program Director of FoodCorps and the Communications and Outreach Director of the National Farm to School Network. Ms. Eschmeyer is a food justice and school food advocate with 15 years of farming and sustainable food experience. She has presented at hundreds of events, including the White House Childhood Obesity Taskforce Forum, and manages a national media initiative on school gardens, farmers’ markets and healthy corner stores under a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Eschmeyer has placed hundreds of Farm to School articles in media outlets around the country including the Wall Street Journal and TIME magazine. As a Food and Society Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Ms. Eschmeyer created One Tray, a successful campaign to encourage Congress and the USDA to support Farm to School programs through policy and regulatory reform. She has served as an editor for the book Food Justice and as a contributor to the documentary Lunch Line. A graduate of Xavier University, her previous nonprofit work spans the globe in the humanitarian, conservation, sustainable agriculture and food justice realms. Ms. Eschmeyer was a past board member of the Community Food Security Coalition and is currently serving on the Center for Ecoliteracy's Rethinking School Lunch Advisory Council and is a Design Team member of Live REAL, a new youth led food justice organization for historically excluded communities.

Megan Lott is the Associate Policy Director for the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC), a non-profit organization which catalyzes food systems that are healthy, sustainable, just, and democratic by building community voice and capacity for change. In her current role, Megan advocates for policies that enhance local food systems and increase access to healthy foods in communities. Prior to joining the CFSC, Megan worked in the areas of food insecurity and hunger at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, DC, and at the Food Research and Action Center. Megan became very active in the sustainable agriculture movement in and around the Chapel Hill, NC community while in graduate school, and is happy to be working for the Community Food Security Coalition, where she can combine both her interests in hunger and local food systems. Megan is a Registered Dietitian with a BS in Nutrition Sciences and Dietetics from the University of Cincinnati and a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

From the Nonprofit



Dec 16, 2010
See our video site: http://www.video.farmtoschool.org


Dec 16, 2010
The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is a collaborative project of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College and the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC). The National Farm to School Network envisions a nation in which Farm to School programs are an essential component of strong and just local and regional food systems, ensuring the health of all school children, farms, environment, economy and communities. Working to that end, eight regional lead agencies and national staff provide free training and technical assistance, information services, networking, and support for policy, media and marketing activities at the local, state, regional, and national levels.

Download our brochure, and contact information.

Farm to School Definition

Farm to School is broadly defined as a program that connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers. Since each Farm to School program is shaped by its unique community and region, the National Farm to School Network does not prescribe or impose a list of practices or products for the Farm to School approach.

Farm to School at its core is about establishing relationships between local foods and school children by way of including, but not limited to:
  • Local products in school meals –breakfast, lunch, afterschool snacks; and in classrooms – snacks, taste tests, educational tools
  • Local foods related curriculum development and experiential learning opportunities through school gardens, farm tours, farmer in the classroom sessions, chefs in the classroom, culinary education, educational sessions for parents and community members, visits to farmers’ markets.

The National Farm to School Network aims to enable every child to have access to nutritious food while simultaneously benefiting communities and local farmers.

From the neighborhood to the nation, Farm to School has truly taken root. All 50 states now have operational Farm to School programs—increased from a handful in 1997 and 36 states in 2007. Just this past year, the Network received thousands of inquiries for training and technical assistance. To create a learning and networking space, the NFSN co hosts the premier national farm to cafeteria conference in the country with a total of over 3000 attendees at the following: Detroit, MI (2010); Portland, OR (2009); Baltimore, MD /Washington D.C. (2007); Gambier, OH (2005), and Seattle, WA (2002).

The NFSN website, www.farmtoschool.org , remains the one-stop portal of Farm to School resources and information with daily updates to program profiles, policy, events, funding opportunities, and news feeds. In addition, the NFSN placed hundreds of farm to school articles in media outlets around the country including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Des Moines Register, LA Times, and TIME magazine; developed template presentations; spoken at hundreds of state and national Association meetings; created a national introductory video of Farm to School; hosted a Video contest for K-college (2 years running); developed two Public Service Announcement videos on Farm to School and the Child Nutrition Act called Lunch Encounters of the Third Kind and Priceless; initiated the One Tray campaign to connect local agriculture to federal nutrition; co-hosted a national Cooking Up Change contest to get high schoolers involved in school food reform; and have successfully advocated for $5 million annually for a Farm to School competitive grant program in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization.

Government support has blossomed. In September 2009, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the Farm to School team, a key component of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. In May 2010, the White House Childhood Obesity Taskforce Report recommended both Farm to School and school gardens as a community based solution to childhood obesity. Specifically, recommendation 3.6 of this report states: "USDA should work to connect school meal programs to local growers and use farm to school programs, where possible, to incorporate fresher, appealing food in school meals." Michelle Obama also rolled out the new Let's Move website which specifically promotes community gardens, school gardens and Farm to School programs for elected officials , schools, and community leaders. In addition, we have recently assisted with the launch of FoodCorps: an AmeriCorps Farm to School and School Garden Program in development. The ultimate goal of the project is to increase the health and prosperity of vulnerable children while investing in the next generation of farmers.


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