October is Farm to School Month in Nebraska - Farm to School Webinars offered this fall focus on bringing Nebraska-grown foods to Schools

Release Date: 



Sarah Smith, sarahs@cfra.org, Center for Rural Affairs Nebraska Farm to School Lead, Phone: (307) 321-9766
or Elisha Smith, elishas@cfra.org, Center for Rural Affairs, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1007

Lyons, NE - The Center for Rural Affairs is celebrating Farm to School Month by hosting three webinars filled with useful information for school staff and farmers and ranchers interested in starting or expanding Farm to School programs in their communities.

The hour long webinars taking place during October and November will cover a wide range of topics such as how food service staff have participated in local food procurement, key points farmers and ranchers should consider when working with schools as a market opportunity, and how Nebraska farmers, ranchers and food producers have made the school connection.
“These webinars are a free resource we are facilitating to bring together educators, food service directors, farmers, ranchers, parents, students, and others interested in Farm to School programs across Nebraska,” said Sarah Smith with the Center for Rural Affairs. “They will allow Nebraskans from across the Farm to School table to hear success stories, learn best practices, and most importantly connect with each other. This effort will grow market opportunities for Nebraska food producers, and healthy, delicious food options for our Nebraska students. Bringing the farm to school is a win-win for all of us.”
The first webinar, “Farm to School Case Studies for Nebraska Food Service Staff” will take place Thursday, October 22, 2015 from 2-3pm and targets Nebraska Food Service Staff.  Rural food service directors will share how and why they have participated in local procurement and farm to school activities. Their stories will address a range of topics like scratch cooking techniques, working with local farmers and ranchers, using produce from a school greenhouse (and planning for it),  incorporating local foods into salad bars; and bringing local beef onto the school lunch tray.
The second webinar, “Farmers and Ranchers: Reach a New Market with Sales to Schools” will be held on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 from 2-3pm. This webinar, designed for Nebraska farmers, ranchers and food producers, will discuss key points for farmers and ranchers to consider when working with schools as a market opportunity. Participants will walk in a food service director’s shoes with Donna Handley, School Lunch Program Specialist with the Nebraska Department of Ed. She will answer what requirements and needs school food service staff face when serving school meals. Sarah Browning of University of Nebraska Extension will discuss the farm food safety procedures farmers and ranchers should consider, as well as helpful training resources that are available to address farm food safety topics. Finally, experienced farmer Ryan Pekarek, will discuss how and when to approach schools, and how to go about planning the growing season. This webinar will introduce food producers to the opportunities available when selling to schools, as well as considerations to take when planning for success.
The third and final webinar, “Farm to School: Farmers, Learn an Easier Way to Make the School Connection” takes place Wednesday, November 11, 2015, 2-3 pm. Participants will hear three unique stories on farm to school and how Nebraska farmers have made the school connection. Justin Jones, President of Lone Tree Foods, will share how Lone Tree connects food producers to eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa schools. Food Service Director Tini Van-Oehlertz of Pius X schools in Lincoln will explain her experiences purchasing local foods through the Nebraska Food Cooperative. And Dawne Price of Price Farms will describe how and why she directly connected with Lyons-Decatur Schools and the on-farm activities she organized for Lyons-Decatur elementary students. There are multiple ways to connect with schools, and this webinar will provide insight on Nebraska farm to school opportunities for the food producer.
For detailed registration details, interested participants should visit: http://www.cfra.org/farm-school-fall-webinars.
The Center for Rural Affairs has many resources for helping bring the farm to the school. One such tool is the Farm to School Producers Map (found here:http://www.cfra.org/findfarmer), inspired by our online Nebraska Find-A-Farmer Tool designed to link a school or program with a farmer to work with directly.

Other Farm to School resources can be found at the main Farm to School page here: http://www.cfra.org/f2s

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