GREENFIELD, MA, Dec. 5, 2014 — The Northeast Regional Steering Committee of the National Farm to School Network has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to host a Northeast Farm to School Leadership Forum in partnership with Farm to Institution New England (FINE) and Farm to Institution New York State as an integral part of the first New England Farm to Institution Summit. The summit will be held on April 7-9, 2015 at UMass Amherst in collaboration with Health Care Without Harm and Real Food Challenge. This regional event grant is one of 82 awards nationwide announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on December 2nd to support efforts that connect school cafeterias with local farmers and ranchers.
"We are so thankful for USDA support to bring together farm to school leaders from across the Northeast to collaborate on getting healthy and local foods into cafeterias,” said Betsy Rosenbluth, regional lead for the National Farm to School Network. “Schools purchase more than $58 million in local food in the Northeast, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Farm to school is good for our local economy and for the health of our kids.”
In addition to the farm to school forum, the Farm to Institution Summit will include farm to college and farm to healthcare forums as well as a full day of professional development and networking opportunities relevant to all different types of institutions. The farm to college forum will have some shared programming with the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium (NECSC) conference on April 9th and 10th, an event that primarily draws sustainability coordinators from college campuses.
"The Farm to Institution Summit will be a profound opportunity where K-12 schools, colleges and hospitals will convene with food supply chain players to collectively reimagine a food system where access to healthy, transparent and just regional food is the norm,” said Stacia Clinton, regional director for Health Care Without Harm and member of the FINE leadership team. The target audience includes advocates, farmers, food processors, distributors, dining services, institution administrators, students and educators.
“This $50,000 USDA grant, along with funding from the John Merck Fund and Henry P. Kendall Foundation, will enable FINE and partners to create a dynamic three-day event,” said Peter Allison, network director of Farm to Institution New England. The conference will bring together regional farm to institution leaders to share best practices and success stories and develop collaborative action. “We are committed to creating meaningful change in our food system by getting more regionally grown food into schools, colleges and hospitals, thus supporting our farmers, businesses, workers and consumers.”
Farm to Institution New England is a six-state network of non-profit, public and private entities working collaboratively to strengthen our food system by increasing the amount of New England-grown and processed food served in our region’s schools, hospitals, colleges and other institutions. Learn more at www.farmtoinstitution.org. Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.