From our colleagues at USDA-Rural Development and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services. An emphasis on economic development through arts, access to financial institutions and food security.
A number of governors around the U.S. have already begun rolling out budget proposals for the next legislative session. This week, SSTI examines gubernatorial spending recommendations related to research, commercialization, STEM education and entrepreneurship in Alaska, South Dakota and Utah. See our previous article on proposals in Florida and Wyoming.
USDA monitors the extent and severity of food insecurity in U.S. households at the national and State levels. Food-insecure households are defined as those that had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. Food insecurity rates differ across States due to characteristics of the population, State-level policies, and economic conditions. Estimated prevalence rates of food insecurity during 2012-14 ranged from 8.4 percent in North Dakota to 22.0 percent in Mississippi. Data for 2012-14 were combined to provide more reliable State statistics. The prevalence of food insecurity was higher than the national average of 14.0 percent in 14 States and lower than the national average in 20 States. In the remaining 16 States and the District of Columbia, differences from the national average were not statistically significant. This map appears in ERS’s Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials.
Obama Administration Announces Competition to Designate the Third and Final Round of Promise Zones
Today, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that communities may now apply to be designated a Promise Zone under the third and final round competition. Any community meeting the eligibility criteria can apply for a designation. HUD and USDA will designate seven Promise Zones across urban, rural and tribal communities for the final round. The deadline for submitting Promise Zone applications is Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 5:00 PM EST. Announcements will be made in the Spring of 2016. Read the new notice seeking Promise Zone applications. To provide additional details and answer questions from communities interested in applying, HUD and USDA will host three separate webcasts for urban, rural, and tribal communities in January and February. The schedule for the webcasts is as follows:
January 13, 2016, 1:30p.m. Eastern Standard Time
January 13, 2016, 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
January 13, 2016, 11:00a.m Eastern Standard Time
February 1, 2016, 2:30p.m. Eastern Standard Time
The third round application guides, updated frequently asked questions, upcoming informational webcasts and webinars has been posted on the Promise Zones website.
Social Innovation Fund's Pay for Success Grants Competition
The Social Innovation Fund is inviting Community Development Financial Institutions to apply for its 2016 Pay for Success (PFS) Competition.
This competition will provide up to $10.6 million to eligible organizations, including nonprofits and state and local governments, to support PFS transaction structuring – that is, to take PFS projects from development to implementation and from conception to fruition. Awarded grants will range from $350,000 to $1,800,000 per year for a three year period. Overall, this competition will aid in advancing the emerging models that align payment for social services with verified social outcomes. A letter of intent from interested applicants is encouraged by January 13, and applications are due by February 11, 2016. More information, including information about webinars and question and answer sessions about the Pay for Success Competition, can be found on the Social Innovation Fund's website.
NEA Art Works Creativity Connects Projects, FY2017
The Arts Endowment's support of a project may start on or after January 1, 2017. Generally, a period of performance of up to two years is allowed. The official applicant must be an arts organization. An organization may submit only one application for an Art Work: Creativity Connects grant. Grant Program Description Creativity Connects* is an initiative that will show how the arts are central to the country’s creativity ecosystem, investigate how support systems for the arts have changed, explore how the arts connect with other industries, and invest in innovative projects to spark new ideas for the arts field. A key component to the Creativity Connects initiative is a pilot grant opportunity in the Art Works category to support partnerships between arts organizations and organizations from non-arts sectors that include, but are not limited to, business, education, environment, faith, finance, food, health, law, science, and technology. Art Works: Creativity Connects grants will seek to benefit the arts and non-arts sectors by: • Demonstrating the value of working with the arts. • Supporting the infrastructure for the arts to work in new ways with new sectors. • Building bridges that create new relationships and constituencies. • Creating innovative partnership projects to advance common goals. Read more here.
This week, congressional leaders reached a deal on spending that would prevent a federal government shutdown. The omnibus appropriations bill would fund the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Regional Innovation Program at $15 million, an increase of $5 million over the previous year. The Regional Innovation program is SSTI's highest legislative priority because of the flexible funding it provides for regional innovation activities. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) would receive $130 million, and another $25 million would support the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The deal also would make the federal research and development tax credit permanent. Businesses with less than $50 million in gross receipts would be able to use the credit to offset the alternative minimum tax, while certain startups without an income tax liability could apply the credit against payroll taxes. Summaries of the appropriations bills are available at: http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=394337
CDFI Fund Schedules Five Additional “Expanding CDFI Coverage in Underserved Areas” Webinars
Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) released the schedule of the next set of free webinars through the Capacity Building Initiative’s “Expanding CDFI Coverage in Underserved Areas” series. The webinars, provided by Opportunity Finance Network and its partners, will be held between January 2016 and April 2016. The CDFI Fund launched the “Expanding CDFI Coverage in Underserved Areas” series to help fill the gaps in Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) service coverage in underserved communities in the United States and its territories. The free webinars are designed to maximize CDFI industry participation in this important training. The webinars will expand upon training topics developed for in-person training sessions held during the summer of 2015, as well as new topical content on expansion developed by CDFI experts.
The five webinars are:
· Partnerships for Financial Capability (Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 2 p.m. EST): Partnerships are often formed out of a common sense of purpose, but many fail to thrive. How can you build better partnerships? This webinar will describe five keys to success – convergent vision, complementary capacities, commitment, confidence, and coordination – and present a framework to help prospective partners to build more effective, dynamic, and durable relationships.
· Exploring New Models for CDFI Coverage through Formation of New or Affiliated CDFIs (Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 2 p.m. EST): This webinar presents options for structures CDFIs can consider when forming new or affiliated CDFIs. Not-for-profit and for-profit corporate structures are presented, as well as de novo, acquiring, and evolving formation strategies. The risk and return spectrum will help CDFIs understand the risk-return profile for different types of financing products offered by CDFIs from debt to equity.
· Capitalization Strategies: Raising Debt and Equity for CDFIs (Tuesday, February 23, 2016, 2 p.m. EST): Join us for a webinar on capitalization to explore various sources of capital available to CDFIs. In this webinar, you will learn to develop a plan to access the sources of capital appropriate for your CDFI.
· Customer Acquisition (Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 2 p.m. EDT): New market challenges, increased competition, demand for diversified products, and more selective customers all make it even more imperative to reach and retain the customers your organization needs to grow. Learn how to identify and reach your most important customers.
· Fundraising Strategies for your CDFI (Tuesday, April 5, 2016, 2 p.m. EDT): Join us for a webinar focusing on raising operating capital for your CDFI. We will provide several perspectives from the industry on fundraising during this session. Included in the discussion will be how to find funders, how to build relationships with your funders, and how to effectively tell your organization’s story.
Future webinar opportunities will be posted as they are confirmed to the “Expanding CDFI Coverage in Underserved Areas” webpage. Webinars will be recorded and made available on the CDFI Fund’s Resource Bank later in 2016.
On December 17, the NADO Research Foundation, in partnership with the University of Louisville Center for Environmental Policy & Management’s Environmental Finance Center, hosted a webinar titled Regional Engagement for Green Infrastructure Decision Making & Implementation. In cities, towns, and regions throughout the country, green infrastructure has emerged as a powerful tool for enhancing community livability, economic competitiveness, and resilience in the face of a changing climate. At the regional level, green infrastructure is defined more broadly as an interconnected system of local interventions or a larger network of natural lands, working landscapes, and open spaces that provide a range of eco-system services. Since these complex systems often span local jurisdictional boundaries, regional development organizations (RDOs) and other regional planning entities throughout the country are increasingly recognizing their growing role in the evolution of green infrastructure.
Below please find updated events, grants, news and information related to local food systems. I’ve also included our agenda for our next GoodGreens meeting to be held from 10:00 to 12:00 Central Time on Thursday, January 28th. We’ll provide meeting details, including call-in information, closer to its date. We look forward to seeing and working with you in the New Year.
January 28th Agenda
1. Joanie Buckley, Internal Services Director of the Oneida Nations in Wisconsin, will discuss the Nation’s healthy food access and sustainable food system work.
2. Farmer Rob, Montalbano Farms will share information on his Illinois farm’s operation.
3. Kevin Erickson, Urban Ag Coordinator, Loyola University, will share information on Loyola’s urban ag activities.
4. Sara Continenza, Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland, will talk about the Network’s Stay Well Project and Gardens of Giving program. She will also talk about policy and programming efforts in Northeast Ohio that alleviate health disparities in low-income communities through healthy living.
5. Originally a 93,500 square foot meatpacking facility, The Plant in Chicago is being converted into a net-zero energy food business incubator. The Plant will hold indoor demonstration farms and educational facilities and will incubate sustainable food businesses by offering tenant spaces with low rent and energy costs. The Plant will create 125 jobs in the economically distressed Back of the Yards neighborhood, but these jobs will require no fossil fuel. Instead, The Plant will install a renewable energy system that will divert over 10,000 tons of food waste from landfills each year to meet its heat and power needs.
1. Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference and Trade Show, hosted by Illinois Specialty Growers Association, features: workshops on specialty crop research, social media, and legal issues for small farmers; and main conference featuring many topics pertaining to fruit and vegetable production, marketing, and pest control. The conference takes place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, IL, from January 6-8, 2016. The pre-registration deadline is December 28.
2. The Wisconsin Local Food Network hosts its 10th annual Local Food Summit: Digging Into Local Food. The two and a half day Summit will allow attendees to explore the Wisconsin food industry through engaging workshops, breakout sessions and farm and facility tours. Read more about the Summit and the work that the Wisconsin Local Food Network is doing in its region.
3. The Future of Food: Innovation, Technology, and Agriculture Date: January 28 Location: Chicago, IL
4. Sustainable Farming Association Annual Conference is an opportunity for those involved in sustainable food systems to network and participate in sessions with topics of their choice. The conference will take place February 13, 2016, in St. Joseph, MN. Early registration ends November 1, 2015. For more information on the conference, click the link above.
5. Illinois Farmers Market Association Annual Conference. The day-long conference will feature keynote speakers, vendor fair, winter market, idea-sharing, and four educational tracks: Market Basics Track for new market managers, vendors, and volunteers; Market Vendor Track for new and experienced vendors looking for ideas to improve business; Market Manager Track with a wide variety of topics for improving markets; and Market Manager Presentations Track, which will feature short presentations from the inaugural class of Illinois’ Certified Farmers Market Managers. The conference will be on February 17, 2016, from 8:00am-4:00pm at the Chicago Cultural Center. Registration online opening soon.
6. New! 2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum is one of the USDA’s largest annual meetings, featuring a number of speakers and tracks on key issues and topics in agriculture including: new markets, organics, risk management, and urban agriculture. Speakers will include: USDA Secretary Tom Vilsak and Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden; USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson, who will present “The 2016 Economic Outlook for Agriculture”; Howard Buffett from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation; and Purdue University President Mitch E. Daniels. The Forum will be held from February 25-26, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia.
7. Good Food Festival and Conference, hosted by Family Farmed, will celebrate the progress and successes of the food movement. The three-day event will focus on finance and innovation (Mar. 24); trade, policy, and schools (Mar. 25); and the Good Food Festival (Mar. 26), with a number of guest speakers including: Governor Rauner (IL), Senator Dick Durbin (IL), and Toni Preckwinkle (Cook County Board President). The Conference features many opportunities for farms to connect to financial resources and businesses, to help grow local procurement capacity, and to provide a forum to discuss local, statewide, and national food policy. The event will be March 24-26, 2016 in Chicago, IL.
8. Farm to Cafeteria Conference, hosted by National Farm to School Network, is a biennial convention of the diverse stakeholders in the farm to school movement. The conference is for everyone interested in sourcing local food in schools and promoting food and agricultural literacy across America. The event will be June 1-4, 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin.
9. National Small Farm Conference, hosted by Virginia State University College of Agriculture and USDA, is an annual conference that highlights: successes, strategies to create and sustain, and research related to small farmers and ranchers. The conference will take place from September 20-26, 2016.
School and Youth
1. Herb Society of America Grant for Educators Purpose: Fund one-year projects to deliver innovative learning experiences on knowledge, use of, and delight of herbs to the public. Eligibility: Individuals, groups, or small businesses that have previous educational experience. Funding: One or two grants of $5000. Deadline: Applications, including statement of qualifications, project description, and detailed budget, are due December 31, 2015.
2. New! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the availability of Fiscal Year 2016 funds to implement a National Collaboration to Support Health, Wellness and Academic Success of School-Age Children. Purpose: To support states, school districts, and schools for nationwide implementation of cross-cutting approaches to promote health and prevent and control chronic diseases and their risk factors." Eligibility: National nongovernment organizations. Funding: Approximately $2,250,000 per year is available for per year for five years. Deadline: January 19th.
3. Bonnie Plants’ Third Grade Cabbage Program Purpose: Each year, more than one million free cabbage plants are distributed to third grade classrooms across the country. As part of the program, Bonnie Plants awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each state for sending in a photo of a unique-looking cabbage (deadline: September 30, 2015). Eligibility: Schools, K-12. Deadline: February 15, 2016.
4. Indiana School Garden of the Year Purpose: Awards best photo-documented 2015-2016 K-12 school gardens. Categories include Best School, Best Nutritional Recipe, Best Educational Use of a Garden, and Best Rookie Garden. Eligibility: K-12 Indiana schools. Funding: $1500 prize. Deadline: March 1, 2016.
5. Micro-Grants/Karma for Cara Foundation Purpose: To fund service projects in communities, with ideas including rebuilding a playground or turning a vacant lot into a community garden. Eligibility: For children 18 and under. Funding: between $250 and $1,000. Deadline: Rolling. Contact: email@example.com.
1. Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design Workshop Grant Purpose: Funds six communities to host an intensive two-and-half day community workshop for local design, planning, and creative placemaking professionals to revitalize art-based community development. Eligibility: all local municipal, tribal, county govenments, non-profit organizations in communities with populations of 50,000 or less. Funding: $10,000 cash stipend and in-kind technical assistance and design expertise valued at $35,000. Deadline: January 12, 2015.
2. Solid Waste Management Grant Program Purpose: Funds organizations that work to reduce or eliminate water and solid waste pollution in rural areas. Elibility: Private, 501(c)3 organizations, government agencies, federally-recognized Native American tribes, academic institutions. Funding: $4 million total. Deadline: December 31, 2015.
3. USDA Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) Purpose: Provides loans and grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDO’s) to provide microloans, training, and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and micro entrepreneurs. Eligibility: rural nonprofits, federally-recognized Tribes, institutions of higher learning, or businesses (ultimate recipients) with 10 or fewer full time employees in rural areas with populations less than 50,000 (Please see requirements). Funding: Grants to qualifying recipients up to $205,000 annually (with 15% matching); loans up to $50,000-$500,000 for MDOs; loans up to $50,000 to ultimate recipients. Deadline: Rolling (applications will be considered for next Federal fiscal quarter). Must apply no later than 4:30 p.m. (local time) on last day of fiscal quarter for consideration for next quarter. Click here for more information.
Food Systems and Food Security
1. Developing Healthy Places. Purpose: The Kresge Foundation seeks to fund nonprofit or government initiatives that build healthier and more equitable food systems, transportation infrastructure, and land use. Eligibility: Nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations, government entities. Funding: Varies, based on proposal. Deadline: Rolling.
2. Jewel-Osco Community Grants. Purpose: Fund organizations promoting nutrition education, healthy eating, and local/sustainable conscientiousness. Eligibility: 501(c)(3) organizations. Deadline: Rolling.
3. Surdna Foundation/Sustainable Environment Grants Purpose: Fund projects that: develop regional food infrastructure, reduce barriers to access, strategize financing, or link organizations to more effectively advance regional food efforts. Preference is given to projects that address low-income communities of color and combine food supply efforts with infrastructure construction. Eligibility: Non-profit organizations. Funding: Need-based. Deadline: Rolling. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. New! Walgreen Community Grant Program. Purpose: The Walgreen Community Grant Program supports organizations seeking funding for projects focused on improving: Access to health and wellness in the community; Pharmacy; Education programs and mentoring initiative; Civic and community outreach; Emergency and disaster relief. Program website Deadlines: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis
2. Citi Foundation Community Progress Makers Fund Purpose: Funds organization projects that connect low or middle-income urban communities to greater social and economic opportunities. Eligibility: 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations who have demonstrated experience partnering with other community organizations and using data-driven practices to create social and economic opportunities. Must be located and working in listed metropolitan areas. Funding: Up to $500,000 over two years. Deadline: Round 1 Request for Proposals due 11:59PM EST on January 9, 2016.
3. AmeriCorps State and National Competitive Grants FY2016link See link for schedule of best practices webinars.
4. Every Kid Healthy Grant Purpose: Action for Healthy Kids provides funding and resources to schools that carry out nutrition and physical activity-related programs. Schools should work towards USDA’s Healthier US Schools Challenge certification. Eligibility: All K-12 schools, especially those with >50% eligible for free/reduced price meals. Deadline: Rolling.
5. The American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Voices for Healthy KidsPurpose: Fund state, local, and tribal policy efforts to reverse childhood obesity trends in six priority areas. Eligibility: Non-profit organizations. Funding: Up to $100,000. Deadline: Rolling. Contact: Jill Ceitlin at email@example.com
Farmer, Rancher & Food
1. Organic Farming Research Foundation Research (OFRF) Grants. Purpose: Funds research related to organic farming and dissemination of research results to farmers. This year, priority is given to research related to soil health with an emphasis on water management (for drought and flood conditions). Eligibility: Proposals must be farmer-led and take place on certified organic land. Funding: OFRF will fund projects up to $15,000 for one year and $20,000 for soil health and water management-related research for two years. Deadline: February 8, 2016, 11:59 PM.
2. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education- Farmer Rancher Grant Program. Purpose: The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NC-SARE) seeks farmers and ranchers with projects offering sustainable solutions to farm management. Funding: up to $7,500 for individual grant projects and up to $22,500 for group grant projects. Deadline: Varies by region.
3. USDA New Farmer Outreach and Education Grant Purpose: Fund projects that educate new and underserved farmers about the 20 Farm Service Agency programs that provide financial, value-added production, property inheritance, production, disaster, or technical support. Eligibility: 501(c)3 nonprofits, institutions of higher education. Funding: Between $20,000 and $100,000 per applicant. Deadline: Application deadlines for each evaluation period are 01/22/16; 3/18/16; and 5/27/16.
4. 2016 Frontera Farmer Foundation Grant Applications. Purpose: The Frontera Foundation, established by Rick and Deann Bayless, is a nonprofit committed to promoting small, sustainable Midwestern farms serving the Chicago area by providing them small capital development grants. Funding: Up to $12,000. Eligibility: Farms with 3+ years’ operation. Demonstrated need and commitment to sustainable food production for the Chicago area. Deadline: February 27, 2016.
5. Specialty Crop Block grants totaling $63.2 million are allocated to U.S. States and territories based on a formula that considers both specialty crop acreage and production value. Purpose: The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” Interested applicants should apply directly through their state department of agriculture. Eligibility: Organizations or individuals should contact their state department of agriculture for more information. Deadline: A listing of state contacts and application due dates can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp.
7. USDA Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative Purpose: Assist producers to extend the growing season for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner. Eligibility: Individuals, legal entities, Indian Tribes, and joint operations engaged in agricultural production. Deadline: Varies by state.
1. New! USDA Begins 49th Enrollment Period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). From Dec. 1, 2015, to Feb. 26, 2016, farmers and ranchers can enroll in CRP, a federally-funded program that helps agriculture producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing, and protecting native wildlife and habitat. As of 2015, more than 24.2 million acres were enrolled in CRP. Since program establishment, CRP has: prevented more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding and sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases.
2. New! NRCS Supporting Urban Agriculture in Northeastern IL Through EQIP. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering a funding opportunity via the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for agriculture-producing individuals or groups in northeastern IL to improve natural resources while growing fruits and vegetables, especially in urban areas. The project is being offered in the following counties: Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. The deadline dates for three separate funding cycles will be: January 15, 2016; February 19, 2016; and March 18, 2016.
3. Organic Farmer Training Program. Hosted by Michigan State University, this program offers 9-month intensive instruction in year-round organic farming. Participants manage all aspects of the 15-acre farm and create business and production plans for their future farm businesses. Deadline: Rolling.
4. Homegrown By Heroes is a marketing initiative started by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and expanded nationally by the Veteran Farmer Coalition to identify agricultural products created by U.S. veterans. Apply via the link. Deadline: annually renewable.
5. USDA Agricultural Credit Training for Farmer Veterans and Beginner Farmers. The USDA will partner with the Farmer Veteran Coalition to conduct agricultural credit training sessions in Midwest states for military veterans and beginning farmers and ranchers. These training sessions aim to improve business planning and financial skills, and improve understanding of the risk management tools for small farm operations.
6. GroupGAP Program Brings New Market Opportunities for Farmers. In Spring 2016, USDA will add GroupGAP Program to the list of third-party auditing services verifying that operations follow industry-recognized food safety practices, aka: Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). In GroupGAP, a collection of organized independent farmers under a central entity can choose and implement the food safety standard most suited for the needs of their buyers. This program, the product of a USDA/Wallace Center pilot project, will allow smaller farms to more easily certify products for retail.
7. Women in Agriculture USDA Fact Sheets detail the important contributions that women have made in agriculture across the U.S. To continue building the next generation of women in agriculture, the USDA has established a women in agriculture mentoring network. Email AgWomenLead@usda.gov or follow the hashtag #womeninag.
8. USDA Expands Farm Safety Net, Offers Greater Flexibility for Beginning, Organic and Fruit and Vegetable Growers. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden announced that Whole-Farm Revenue Protection will be available in every U.S. county in 2016.
9. The Good Food Fund in Michigan is a collaborative effort with 20+ organizations that can fund production, distribution, processing, or retail enterprises benefitting low and moderate-income, food-insecure Michigan communities. The effort, which includes Fair Food Network, Capital Impact Partners, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, aims to create a $30 million fund to supply loans, grants, and new market tax credits for businesses and organizations involved in the good food sector. For more information on the Good Food Fund, click here.
10. Annual Agriculture Loans. Through the Ag Invest Annual interest rate reduction program, the Illinois Treasurer’s Office helps farmers pay the annual start-up costs associated with seed, fertilizer, plants, crop insurance, and other expenses. For loan possibilities for your farm, contact Ag Invest at AgInvest@illinoistreasurer.gov or (217)557-6436.
11. Affordable Care Act Gives New Farmers the Freedom to Farm. Rural Americans can now choose from a variety of affordable insurance plans. In fact, eight out of ten may qualify for financial assistance to help pay for coverage. Nearly 1.3 million people living in rural America are signed up for health coverage through the HealthCare.gov Marketplace. Also, the ACA doubled the size of the National Health Service Corps which offers scholarships and loan repayment to health practitioners who practice in rural communities.
School and Farm to School
1. Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools is a partnership between United Fresh, the White House, the Center for Disease Control, and others, that helps schools install salad bars. Those interested in applying for a salad bar can click the link.
2. Sign-up for the FNS Farm to School E-letter at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Illinois Farmers Market Association Annual Conference. The day-long conference will feature keynote speakers, vendor fair, winter market, idea-sharing, and four educational tracks: Market Basics Track for new market managers, vendors, and volunteers; Market Vendor Track for new and experienced vendors looking for ideas to improve business; Market Manager Track with a wide variety of topics for improving markets; and Market Manager Presentations Track, which will feature short presentations from the inaugural class of Illinois’ Certified Farmers Market Managers. The conference will be on February 17, 2016, from 8:00am-4:00pm at the Chicago Cultural Center. Registration online opening soon.
2. First Nations Native Agriculture and Food Systems Scholarship Program encourages more Native American college students to enter the agricultural sector in Native communities.
3. Farmers Market Partners. FNS Public Affairs facilitates a collaboration with Midwest farmer’s market coordinators to discuss challenges, successes, news, and events. Together we can learn ways to improve and increase markets. Conference calls are held every 3-4 months and info is shared via emails. Please email Penny Weaver at email@example.com if interested.
1. Chicago Market is launching a local, sustainable food co-op on Chicago's north side. The co-op will be full-service grocery store. Chicago Market is currently recruiting owners who will buy a stake in the co-op and get a say in the Market's operations.
2. Detroit Kitchen Connect allows Detroit area entrepreneurs, community members and organizations to process high-quality food products in a diverse and collaborative learning environment. Apply to be a partner at the link.
1. Cities and Agriculture: Developing Resilient Urban Food Systems, Routledge, December 1. As people increasingly migrate to urban settings and more than half of the world's population now lives in cities, it is vital to plan and provide for sustainable and resilient food systems which reflect this challenge. New research presents experience and evidence-based "state of the art" chapters on the key dimensions of urban food challenges and types of intra- and peri-urban agriculture.
2. Soils Are Endangered, but the Degradation Can Be Rolled Back, FAO, December . Soils are vital for producing nutritious crops and they filter thousands of cubic kilometers of water each year. Soils also help regulate emissions of greenhouse gases, thus fundamental for regulating climate. The world's soils are rapidly deteriorating due to soil erosion, nutrient depletion, and other threats, but this trend can be reversed if countries take the lead in promoting sustainable management practices and the use of appropriate technologies.
3. High Tunnel Addition Helps Urban Farmer Feed Portland (USDA Blog), 12/07/2015, Portland has become one of the top cities in the nation for its food scene—from trendy neighborhood food carts to fine dining to farm-to-table restaurants. It’s also a place where people embrace eating locally-grown food. Like, seriously, uber-local. That’s why urban farmers like Stacey Givens are making such an impact on Portland’s appetite. “I was [...]
4. AeroFarms Raises $20 Million for High-Tech Urban Agriculture, Opinion, Lora Kolodny, Wall Street Journal, December 10. AeroFarms has raised $20 million to build more of its “aeroponic vertical farms.” The high-tech indoor farms use 95% less water than conventional, commercial field farms. They run on proprietary systems, including equipment that delivers fertilizer only to a plant’s roots and a network of software-controlled, LED growing lights.
5. Number of US children with diabetes, diabetic nephropathy rises. Annual prevalence of diabetes among US children younger than 18 increased from 1.86 to 2.82 per 1,000 from 2002 to 2013, while diabetic nephropathy increased from 1.16% to 3.44% for all cases and from 0.83% to 2.32% for probable cases, according to a study in Diabetes Care. Researchers analyzed data from the US MarketScan commercial claims database and found the highest prevalence of diabetes and diabetic nephropathy were among children ages 12 to younger than 18, while the prevalence of type 1 diabetes was higher among males than females, and type 2 diabetes and diabetic nephropathy prevalence was higher in females. PhysiciansBriefing.com/HealthDay News (12/17)
6. Save the Planet. Eat Ugly., New York Times, December 10. Tapping into a growing international movement to sell and consume food deemed too visually unappealing to make its way to market—whether undersized apples, pug-nosed peppers, or misshapen Camembert—is a campaign called Ugly Mugs. The efficiencies in farming, packaging, and transportation that could come from consuming such fruits and vegetables, instead of throwing them away, could eliminate one billion tons of carbon emissions a year and save 210 million tons of food a year.
7. Research: Latino Families Have Worse Access to Healthy Food. December 8, 2015 Via SaludToday. Latinos tend live in neighborhoods with few supermarkets and other sources of healthy, affordable food options, but several promising solutions are emerging, according to a new package of research from Salud America!, a national network for Latino childhood obesity prevention funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and based at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
8. USDA Economic Research Service report: Rural America at a Glance, 2015 Edition. Rural employment gains were significantly higher over the past year than in recent years, but employment remains below pre-recession levels. Rural areas still suffer population loss, higher poverty, and lower education than urban areas. Issued November 30, 2015.
9. Partnering for Pilot Success in Oregon. USDA press release, 12/2/15. In December 2014, the USDA announced the selection of eight states to participate in the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables (FV). This pilot provides states with more flexibility in procuring unprocessed FVs via existing USDA National School Lunch Program funds. One of the states, Oregon, has already spent $100,000, and plans to spend an additional $400,000 this school year on fresh FVs from local producers. Both the Oregon Department of Education and Agriculture have worked to implement the pilot and involve and safety-certify interested producers.
10. Hunger Costs US Extra $160 Billion a Year to Treat Chronic Illnesses- Study. The Guardian, 11/26/15. The study, commissioned by the Christian charity Bread for the World, suggests that chronic diseases from food insecurity drive up healthcare costs, which in recent years have accounted for 24% of federal spending. Food assistance spending, however, is only 3% of spending. Alleviating food insecurity may reduce the economic impact of the estimated 48.1 million food-insecure people in the U.S.
11. Sustainable Food Hits the Big Leagues. Last month, over 200 regional professional and collegiate sports teams, business and public leaders, athletes, restaurant owners, and chefs came together for a symposium to explore the ways in which the sports industry can make advancements towards a more sustainable food system. Already, some stadiums are planting urban gardens and shifting food procurement policies toward fresh, sustainable food (source: Wallace Center).
12. Creating a cultural shift in how Detroiters think about food. Model D 11/17/15. Detroit is a city where conflicting narratives around food can cloud the issue of food access. On the one hand, there's the popular notion that Detroit is a "food desert" – a city where people don't have healthy food options in their neighborhoods. On the other, there's an idea that the city is a latter-day urban agriculture utopia, a place where back-to-the-land farmers can grow kale for all. The truth of the situation, however, lies somewhere in the middle.
13. Fast-growing demand challenges artisanal food makers The Wall Street Journal 11/20. Over the past few years, shoppers have been flocking to locally made, sustainable products—and that has caught the eye of big players. Huge retail chains are stocking organic fare from small outfits, and venture capitalists have started plowing money into the industry. Artisanal food makers are struggling to keep up with demand.
14. Former grocery store to become farmers market and food hub. Walb News 10/30. An empty East Albany, Georgia building will one day be a hub for local farmers to sell their produce, and Harvard University design fellows are behind the project. Harvard University's Lobe Fellowship is helping redesign the 47,000 square foot building for Southwest Georgia Project, where small, local farmers can distribute their produce.
Resources, Tools & Technical Assistance
1. “Community-Based Agriculture: Safety Guidelines for Youth Working in Gardens”. In the US, Community Based Agriculture is flourishing. The National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety has a safety guidelines resource.
2. Tips for Starting an Organic Garden. The USDA blog features a list of tips for growing an organic garden.
4. Let’s Move! Gardening Guide Learn how to start a kitchen garden in your backyard, a school garden at a school, or a community garden for all of your neighbors to enjoy.
1. New! USDA Economic Research Service Report: America’s Diverse Family Farms: 2015 Edition Most U.S. farms (99 percent) are family operations. Small family farms make up 90 percent of the U.S. farm count but produce 22 percent of farm output. Midsize and large-scale farms (9 percent of farms) produce 68 percent of farm output. Released December 08, 2015.
2. Organic Farming Handbook, released by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), provides information on nutrient management, crop rotations, livestock grazing, pest management, and other organic topics identified in USDA’s 2014 Organic Survey. The handbook was developed by a team of NRCS staff and partner organizations who worked with producers and specialists in agronomy, soil health, wildlife biology, water quality, and other specialty areas. The handbook aims to address the needs of the rapidly growing organic market: in 2014, 8500 organic businesses reported that demand for organic products exceeded $39 billion!
3. Why Go Organic and Where to Start. This USDA blog post from Nov. 9, 2015, features a number of guides, videos, and resources on organic certification.
a. The Road to Organic Certification: two farmers consider and decide to pursue organic certification.
b. What’s the Organic Value Proposition?: Organic farmers describe the benefits of organic certification.
c. Organic Certification Made Simple: Farmers discuss their step-by-step experiences of obtaining organic certification.
d. Transitioning to Organic: Producers explain in this interactive video why it may be worth it for viewers to transition to organic operations.
e. Steps to Certification, Recordkeeping, and Preventive Practices: Three interactive videos provide step-by-step instructions on the certification process, pest control, and recordkeeping.
4. New Entry Sustainable Farming Project just released several plain language guides:
5. USDA’s New Farmer Guide is a compilation of resources for new and beginning farmers. With the average age of American farmers exceeding 58 years and almost 10% of farmland changing hands in the next five years, the USDA has set a new goal of increasing beginning farmer and rancher participation by an additional 6.6% with $5.6 billion in investments. The new updates include feedback from many beginning farmers and ranchers citing unfamiliarity with programs and resources as obstacles to beginning farm operations.
6. USDA-ARS Online Tool to help growers select the right cover crop. The new chart combines information from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and includes more than 50 cover crop species that can help reduce soil erosion, increase organic matter, and control weeds.
7. GrowingProduce.com has news, grants, resources, advice, and producers’ stories for the next generation of growers and distributors.
8. Farm Commons has published guides for farmers looking to use sales contracts for non-traditional sales. The first guide is about using a contract, availability sheet, and invoice to mitigate risks of selling products to maintain transparency with buyers; the second guide is about writing nontraditional sales agreements.
9. USDA’s Know Your Farmer website
10. Cover Crop Economics Decision Support Tool was created by two economists with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
11. Todd Jones has created a tool for crop planning and recordkeeping, which he’s shared at GoodGreens meetings.
12. Farmer Veteran Coalition Referral and Support Connection allows veterans to connect to a resource library, career and legal services, USDA technical assistance, and more. Services are free for members of the Farmer Veteran Coalition.
13. NIFA Public Website Updated for Ease of Users includes grant search tools, an Impacts page to highlight NIFA success stories, and is mobile-friendly.
14. USDA's Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resourcesprovides information like accessing capital, risk management, locating market opportunities and land management, to small and mid-sized producers.
15. FamilyFarmed.Org just released two USDA-Approved Food Safety videos.
1. Resources for Urban Agriculture through Michigan State University by MSU Center for Regional Food Systems.
2. Urban Resource Guide by Advocate for Urban Agriculture, compiles a lot of the urban agriculture guides.
3. USDA's Alternative Farming Systems Information Center has resources and information on urban agriculture.
4. Resource Centers on Urban Agriculture and Food Security (RUAF Foundation) offers research, advice, training, and resources guides for developing resilient and equitable urban food systems.
1. USDA Climate Hubs Fellows Program (CHFP) was established in February 2014 to develop and deliver science-based, region-specific information and technologies to inform climate policymakers and stakeholders like farmers, ranchers, and forestland managers. The CHFP program will hire fellows as temporary federal employees to work with regional Hubs and Sub-Hubs. The complete program description and eligibility can be found here. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 20, 2015.
2. Traditional Foods and Child Nutrition Program memo, released by the USDA on October 22, 2015, provides guidance on local procurement of foods, especially for Tribal governments looking to incorporate locally-produced food in USDA programs.
3. 2015 Annual Good Food Org Guide, by Food Tank and the James Beard Foundation, features the nearly 1000 food-related nonprofits across the United States. These organizations include those addressing childhood obesity and food insecurity, social entrepreneurship, protection of food and restaurant workers, indigenous culture advocacy, human wellness, and the environment.
4. Updated Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Compass Map shows federal investments in local food across the country and includes data on farmers markets and food hubs. Zoom in on a city or town to see how communities are using federal resources for local food expansion.
Interested in SNAP-authorizing your Farmers Market/direct retail? The USDA wants to attend Midwest Region trade shows and market events to help producers and processers expand their markets! Contact USDA FNS EBT/Farmers Market coordinator Stephanie.firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Agricultural Marketing Service Technical Assistance (AMSTA) Project helps grant applicants understand, develop, and submit their Federal grant applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program.
7. Center For Cooperatives, maintained by University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides a lot of resources for member-owned cooperatives, including information for co-op startups, maintenance and finance, legalities, and research/case studies.
8. New Study on Food Hub FinancialsIn partnership with the Farm Credit Council, the Wallace Center has published a new study, with data from 48 food hubs that provides much-needed standards that food hub managers can use to analyze and adjust operations.
9. An Annotated Bibliography on Structural Racism Present in the U.S. Food System, by Michigan State University Center for Regional Food System, is a review of peer-reviewed journal articles on food system structural racism.
10. Food Hub’s Guide to Selling to Restaurants, by Local Food Marketplace, is a guide of a food hub’s do’s and don’ts for collaborating with the restaurant industry.
11. Food Hub Starter Kit, by the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG), includes resources from existing projects and references from the USDA and the National Good Food Network.
12. The New Science of Sustainable Food Systems: Overcoming Barriers to Food Systems Reform is a report from the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food systems that examines the policies, science, and social actors needed to build sustainable and equitable food systems.
13. Food Hub Resource Guide and Local Food Research and Development by the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service, offers technical assistance for food warehouse design, facility management physical volume capacities, and farmers markets.
14. Tech Guide for Food Hubs. Prepared by New Venture Advisors in collaboration with Wholesome Wave, the guide lays out how to assemble a search team, develop a list of technology requirements based on the hub’s operations, build a pipeline of technology solution options, and evaluate and select the right technology.
15. Good Food Economy Digest. The Wallace Center highlights success stories from communities across the US investing in Good Food.
17. A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System by the Institute of Medicine, is about how to establish a basis for calculating the true cost of food production and is a good resource for understanding the effects of the US food system on health, economics, the environment, and society.
18. "Growing Food Connections Policy Database" contains information on more than 100 newly adopted innovative, local government food system policies including public investment in food systems, farmland protection, local food procurement and food policy council resolutions.
19. Farm to Table: Building Local and Regional Food Systems USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) has recently introduced an online resource created to provide information for farmers, ranchers, ag professionals, community organizers and others.
20. Illinois Food and Agribusiness Guide by the Illinois Department of Agriculture lists any company or farm that either produces, processes, packages, or is headquartered in Illinois. This guide can help connect producers to restaurants and buyers.
21. Measuring the Impact of Public Markets and Farmers Markets on Local Economies. During GoodGreens meetings we’ve often referenced studies that show the economic impact of farmers markets on local retailers and local economies.
22. Local Food Directories, maintained by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, includes the National Farmers Market Directory, with information on locations, hours, and other details:
- USDA’s National Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Enterprise Directory – A CSA is a farm or many farms that offers regular deliveries of locally-grown farm products during harvest.
- USDA’s National Food Hub Directory – A Food Hub is a business that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of food products from many local producers to many local buyers.
- USDA’s National On-Farm Market Directory – An On-Farm Market is a farm market managed by a single farm operator that sells agricultural products directly to consumers on-site or nearby.
- USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory – Farmers markets feature two or more farm vendors selling agricultural products directly to customers at a common, recurrent physical location.
Schools & Farm to School
1. New! Growing Farm to School: Partnering with Farm Credit Farm Credit is partnering with National Farm to School Network to support their efforts to increase local food purchases and bring agriculture education to schools. Here is a helpful FAQ on who Farm Credit is and why your organization should consider a partnership with Farm Credit.
2. Resource to Help Food Hubs Support Sustainable Farm to School Programs details the 58% increase in school and food hub engagement using pilot and case studies throughout the state of Vermont. The report is produced in partnership with the USDA’s Farm to School Grant Program, The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, and the Center of University of Virginia’s Center for Rural Studies. These promising results can aid Farm to School buildup across the United States.
3. Farm to School and School Garden Expenses Q&As answers questions on using using school food service funds for farm to school efforts.
4. USDA Team Nutrition resources. Team Nutrition offers a variety of farm to school curricula including materials for scavenger hunts, taste-testing stickers, popular events, and the Great Garden Detective Adventure.
Farm to School Planning Toolkit features eleven different farm-to-school topics with helpful planning tools.
6. Finding, Buying, and Serving Local Foods are USDA resources for schools looking to purchase local foods. Included are fact sheets for producers and schools; a new procurement guide; and policy information.
Nutrition & Cooking
1. SNAP-Ed Toolkit, by Wholesome Wave and University of New England, includes tips for nutrition educators working to gird relationships between health organizations and farmers markets.
2. What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl is an interactive tool with budget friendly recipes designed to help consumers, school nutrition professionals, child care centers, and community leaders.
Data, Statistics & Reports
1. New! Economic Incentives to Supply Safe Chicken to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). A report by the USDA-Economic Research Service suggests that between 2006 to 2012, chicken establishments supplying to the NSLP through AMS safety standards showed modestly better performance compared to commercial-only establishments on Salmonella tests. Better performance may be attributed to NSLP suppliers being concerned about increased scrutiny by AMS. Taken together, these results suggest that inducing concerns about, rather than enforcing, standards may provide a less stringent and lower cost alternative to food safety.
2. USDA's Regional Climate Hub provides information on climate, weather, and agricultural practice.
3. New Report Finds 23 of 25 States with Highest Rates of Obesity are in the South and Midwest. According to TFAH and RWJF, US obesity rates remained mostly steady- but still high- from 2014-2015. Arkansas ranked highest at 35.9% while Colorado ranked lowest at 21.3%. Southern states rank highest in diabetes. Nationally, the obesity rate for Blacks was 47.8%; Latinos, 42.5%; and Whites, 32.6%. The report recommends early childhood healthy eating and physical activity programs; and building healthy communities through small changes like making it easier and more affordable to buy healthy foods.
4. Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement. The Illinois Public Health Institute, together with the Crossroads Resource Center, put together a report addressing different strategies for local food procurement in institutions. The mixed-method approach to the research, including expert interviews, quantitative analysis and five case studies from diverse communities across the country, provides a strong argument for the economic and health benefits to local food procurement.
5. USDA Continues to Expand Local and Regional Market Data. Consumer demand for local and regional food products continues to soar, with retail sales at an estimated $6.1 billion in 2012. Thanks to support from the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA Market News created a series of market reports on locally or regionally produced agricultural products.
6. ERS State Fact Sheets provide information on population, income, poverty, food security, education, employment, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and exports. Updated items include 2012 Census of Agriculture data and unemployment for 2013.
7. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Quick Stats Retrieves customized tables with census data at the national, state, and county levels. For more help view our tutorial video.
8. Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America lists the latest statistics on rural America’s people, jobs, agriculture, and county trends.
1. New! Program Specialist (Farm to School) position in USDA Food & Nutrition Service Midwest Region. Please note there is a selective placement factor associated with this position. To qualify, candidates must possess extensive experience implementing and managing community food systems or farm to school programming and have proven effective working relationships with community food systems or farm to school practitioners and coalitions. https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/423996000 is open to US Citizens and Nationals; no prior Federal experience is required. Scheduled to close on December 30th.
2. New! Grow Eastern Market, Inc (GEM) in Detroit is hiring a general manager who reports to the Board of Directors and is responsible for leading efforts to increase the number of growers into the organization, secure new markets for GEM products, establish operation procedures, manage logistics, and the day to day operations of GEM. http://goodfoodjobs.com/jobs/73766/general-manager.html
3. New! USDA Food & Nutrition Service Midwest Region +Farm to School Specialist: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/423996000 is open to US Citizens and Nationals; no prior Federal experience is required. Apply by December 30th. Please note there is a selective placement factor associated with this position. To qualify, candidates must possess extensive experience implementing and managing community food systems or farm to school programming and have proven effective working relationships with community food systems or farm to school practitioners and coalitions.
4. New! Washington Farm to School Job Opening: WSDA’s Small Farm Direct Marketing and Farm to School team has four (4) openings for Commerce Specialist 3 ~ Education & Outreach Specialists. These positions have been posted to www.careers.wa.gov. These are full-time project positions with different project durations ranging from 8 months to 2 years. These positions will be based in Seattle. This recruitment is open until filled with the first review date of December 30, 2015.
5. Growing Gardens, an Oregon-based nonprofit, seeks an Executive Director, who will work with the Board of Directors to develop and implement policies. The Executive Director will also build good relations with funders, community leaders, policymakers, other organizations, and the organization’s staff of 22. These efforts will further the organization’s vision of promoting home-scale gardening to improve health, self-reliance, and environment in Portland, Oregon. The deadline to apply is November 30, 2015.
6. School Food Focus, a New-York based nonprofit that helps large school districts procure healthy, regionally sourced, and sustainably produced school meals, is seeking a Southern Regional Learning Lab (SRLL) Manager. The Manager will work to put in place a one-year “SRLL Readiness Year Project” that lays the groundwork for future SRLL research and procurement goals. During project duration, the manager will engage participating districts and community partners and identify priority foods for the region. School Food Focus Program Director works with senior management and oversees staff to grow FOCUS Learning Labs; and related programs aimed at making schools meals more healthy, regionally sourced, and sustainably produced.
7. Tuscarora Organic Growers, a south-central Pennsylvania food hub and agricultural marketing cooperative, is seeking a general manager. Please send a resume and cover letter explaining interest to email@example.com
8. FoodCorps Vice President of Programs. FoodCorps is a national service organization that connects kids to healthy food in school. Through an Americorps partnership, they train emerging leaders in limited-resource schools. The VP of Programs will supervise key Program national staff and all state, community, and school partners, and grow the organization from $10M to $20M over five years through leading programs design and implementation. The position is based in Portland, Oregon.
11. Chicago Botanic Garden has many openings.
12. Good Food Jobs
Newsletters and email from which we gather this information include:
v Foundation Center RFP Service - To subscribe visit: http://foundationcenter.org/newsletters/
v To subscribe to the RAC Health Listserv - click here to go to the subscription form.
v Electronic newsletter of the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, Rural Entrepreneurship News. To subscribe, http://team.energizingentrepreneurs.org/news2/public_html/lists/?p=subscribe
v Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City newsletter: http://www.kansascityfed.org/alert/’
v Blue Avocado Nonprofit Magazine - They have a newsletter on boards and nonprofit management, down-to-earth and useful. http://www.blueavocado.org/
v Rural LISC e-newsletter - http://www.lisc.org/rural
v National Association for Development Organizations (NADO) – www.nado.org
v ERS - A notification service is provided by USDA's Economic Research Service for Charts of Note and other research to keep you informed of the latest and most relevant research on the topics that interest you. You can subscribe at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Updates/
v Orton Family Foundation – email sign-up - http://www.orton.org/sign_up