Members of the Pennsylvania Farm to School Network (PFSN) spent the past year putting our strategic plan and priorities into action! The Leadership team and active members representing a variety of sectors across the food system contributed their thoughts and time during working group meetings and through their daily farm to school activities in a variety of ways.
Here are just some of the highlights:
- Two first-of-their-kind professional development workshops were hosted here in PA last year:
- The Pennsylvania Farm to Child Nutrition Summit facilitated peer–to–peer learning and networking among Child Nutrition Program operators, educators, and other stakeholders; showcased farm to child nutrition “best practices”; and delivered educational opportunities regarding the environmental, economic, nutritional, and equitable value of growing foods. Learn about what happened at the event here.
- The PA Farm to School Institute brought together multi-disciplinary teams composed of teachers, administrators and food service professionals. The teams participated in training sessions followed by working groups to create farm to school action plans with specific steps to implement procurement, school gardening and education activities at their school, district or Early Care and Education (ECE) site. Read the recap here.
- Farm to School stakeholders (that’s you!) from communities across PA participated in National Farm to School Month and PA Preferred Days in October. Schools, ECE sites, farmers, and community members celebrated the benefits of bringing fresh produce to kids in a variety of fun and creative ways.
- To demonstrate the importance of funding programs that incentivize local food procurement, PFSN leaders from The Food Trust launched the “Philadelphia Quarter Back for Local” program. This grant opportunity provides ECE sites with $0.25 for each meal that includes Pennsylvania-grown fruits and/or vegetables.
- After a few years hiatus due to the pandemic, The PA Department of Agriculture brought back their in-person “Wholesale to Institutions” workshops for producers this December. Producers with varying levels of experience came together to learn how to market and sell their products wholesale to institutions, including to their local school districts.
- PFSN members representing organizations who engage in policy advocacy joined the Pennsylvania Healthy School Meals For All Coalition. This broad coalition of stakeholders, initiated by the School Nutrition Association of PA (SNAPA), aims to support state legislation to allocate supplemental funds for school meals, following in the footsteps of other states like Colorado who recently passed Universal School Meals policies.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Grant Program continues to provide funding for schools to improve access to healthy, local foods and increase agriculture education opportunities for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Education and Project PA’s Pennsylvania Harvest of the Month Program (PA HOM) continues to provide participants with local, healthy products while supporting Pennsylvania farmers and producers by promoting a local agricultural product each month through schools, child and adult care centers/day care homes, and summer feeding sites. Learn more about funds available for 2023 PA HOM student contests.
We are excited about the progress made in 2022 and look forward to good things to come in 2023. Thank you to our partners and those implementing and supporting farm to school activities throughout the commonwealth!Together, we can ensure that every child in Pennsylvania is meaningfully connected to and nourished by thriving and resilient community food systems.