Two things you can do today to make the American food system better: Part 1

Cross-posted from Fair Food Network

By Kate Fitzgerald

As government agencies get back to work, there are things you can do to help create the food system you would like for this country. There are two easy actions you can take today to make your voice heard.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is asking for feedback on how to improve healthy store choices for SNAP participants, and the Food and Drug Administration wants to know what people think about draft new food safety rules. Today, let’s take a look at food safety.

Friends tell me there are fewer things less engaging for dinner party conversation than American farm policy, but federal safety regulations may be one of them. For once, however, something that seems boring and unlikely to affect you is both interesting and important. Bear with me a moment and you’ll see.

Two years ago, Congress passed the first new food safety legislation in more than 70 years – and it’s a very good piece of legislation. Earlier this year, FDA issued the draft rules it will use to implement the bill – but  unfortunately, some of the proposed rules are not good at all. Consumers now have the opportunity to tell the FDA what they think, and anyone who likes to shop at farmers’ markets, thinks farm to school programs can improve children’s nutrition, and/or is a member of a CSA should make their voice heard.

Every farmer, regardless of the size of his/her operation, is responsible for providing the safest, healthiest food possible to customers. No one is exempt from that responsibility. How one fulfills that obligation depends on the kind of farm, however. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Congress passed two years ago recognized the need for flexibility but the proposed rules do not.

Farmers who are concerned about the proposed rules are not trying to shirk their duty.  They are worried the proposed rules could result in a food system that is not only not safer than the one we have now, but could also bankrupt the very farmers who are doing the most to improve access to affordable healthy food for all Americans.

There are several basic problems with the rules.

Keep reading …


Food Safety, Urban Farming, and Farm to School Web Forum: Monday Oct. 28

Food Safety Safety, Urban Farming, and Farm to School
Monday, Oct. 28th, 10 – 11 am (PT), 11 – noon (MT), 1 – 2 pm (ET)

Register here.

Learn how one of the largest school districts in the country is creating a farm to school program using acres of their own land.  Denver Public Schools identified 25 acres that can be farmed. This year, three acres are under production, providing affordable organically-grown and oh-so-local vegetables to its schools.

There are many issues a school district must address when growing their own food.  First and foremost is food safety.  This webinar will introduce you to the innovate school farming project AND discuss the food safety issues associated with urban farming, whether existing regulations adequately address the issues, and how Denver Public Schools partners with Colorado State University Extension to ensure food safety in the farming, harvesting, and transport processes while not overburdening the farmers of these small urban plots.

Issues to be addressed:

  • What are the food safety issues associated with urban farming and does existing regulation address them?
  • Denver Public Schools (DPS) and Colorado State University Extension case study
  • Q&A

Panelists:

  • Lyn Kathlene, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, Spark Policy Institute, and Senior Staff to the Colorado Farm to School Task Force
  • Martha Sullins, Extension Regional Specialist, Colorado State University Extension
  • Anne Wilson, Farm to School Coordinator, Denver Public Schools
  • Meg Caley, Sprout City Farms, contracted farmer for Denver Public Schools

Farm to School and the Cost of Food Safety Web Forum: Tuesday Oct. 22

The demand for increased safety of the U.S. food supply has taken a prominent role in the public dialogue over the past few years. Fruits and vegetables, while necessary for a balanced diet, have been linked to serious food-borne illness outbreaks in the United States. In response, both the food industry and the federal government have sought on-farm food safety safeguards to be implemented by fruit and vegetable growers. While growers are keen to respond to market demand for safer food, there are inherent costs they must incur to do so.

This webinar presents findings from a study by the Oregon Public Health Institute that investigated the cost of food safety measures among a sample of small and medium sized Oregon growers participating in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Good Agricultural Practices & Good Handling Practices Audit Verification Program (USDA GAP & GHP).  Hear from public health officials, producers, and school food service directors as they discuss the barriers and how to overcome them.

Issues to be addressed:

  • Featuring the FTS food safety research done in Oregon and Colorado
  • Discussion of the need for consistency and regulation and the cost implications for farmers
  • Exploration of the issues from the health, agriculture, and school food services perspectives
  • Q&A

Panelists:

  • Amy Gilroy, MPH, Oregon Public Health Institute
  • Bruce Prenguber, Globalwise, Inc.
  • Steve Fry, Fry Family Farms, Talent, Oregon
  • Lyn Kathlene, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, Spark Policy Institute, and Senior Staff to the Colorado Farm to School Task Force
  • Jeremy West, Food Service Director, Greeley/Evans School District, Colorado; and Chair of the Colorado Farm to School Task Force

Food Safety Modernization Act, the Produce Safety Rule and Farm to School Web Forum: Friday Oct. 18

Food Safety Modernization Act, the Produce Safety Rule and Farm to School
Friday, Oct. 18th, 11 am – noon (PT), noon – 1 pm (MT), 2 – 3pm (ET)

Register here.

In 2011, the federal government passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), updating the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938. The goal of this reform is to ensure food safety by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. One major undertaking of FSMA is establishing food safety standards, especially for foods that are considered potentially hazardous. Currently, FSMA is in the rule-making stage. Of particular interest to farm to school programming is the Produce Rule.

Join this webinar to hear how the proposed produce rules could facilitate or hinder farm to school efforts.  While much has been said about the proposed rule’s impact on specific types of producers, this webinar uniquely considers the farm to school implications from the producer and the food service director’s perspectives. Panelists include national agricultural food safety specialists, legal analyst, and farm to school research staff.

Issues to be addressed:

  • What are the key issues in FSMA and the proposed Produce Safety Rule that will affect farm to school issues?
  • What do school food service directors need to ensure locally-sourced food is safe?
  • Will the new rule facilitate or hinder these farm to school efforts?
  • Q&A

Panelists:

  • Sarah Hackney, Grassroots Director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
  • Brian Snyder, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture
  • Lyn Kathlene, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, Spark Policy Institute, and Senior Staff to the Colorado Farm to School Task Force
  • Laura Brown, JD, legal analyst for the CO FTS Task Force Food Safety Project

Farm to School Food Safety Project Web Forum: Thursday Oct. 17

Farm to School Food Safety Project
Thursday, Oct. 17th, 11 am – noon (PT)/noon – 1 pm (MT)/2 – 3 pm (ET)

Register here.

The Colorado Farm to School Task Force in partnership with other key stakeholders identified food safety as one of the major challenges facing the implementation of statewide farm to school programming. To help address these barriers, the Task Force with Spark Policy Institute and the Colorado Foundation for Public Health and the Environment has produced a comprehensive review and analysis of the statutory and regulatory structure of agricultural policies as they relate to farm to school, with a specific focus on the interconnectedness of federal mandates on state regulatory structures and local county health regulations related to food safety.

In this webinar you will learn about four specific resources from the project – each targeted for specific audiences: policymakers/regulators, public health, school food service directors, and producers. In addition, the speakers will discuss how Colorado’s resources can be used as a template for other states to undertake their own comprehensive analysis and why they should do it.

To review the products prior to the webinar, go to http://coloradofarmtoschool.org/docs-media/policy-guidance/farm-to-school-food-safety-project/.

Issues to be addressed:

  • A detailed look at the food safety/farm to school research done in Colorado
  • Review of the policy/regulatory state guidance
  • “Just the Facts” briefs for specific audiences
  • “Just the Facts” Prezi interactive presentations for specific audiences
  • How you can do this in your state — and why you should
  • Q&A

Panelists:

  • Lyn Kathlene, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, Spark Policy Institute, and Senior Staff to the Colorado Farm to School Task Force
  • Therese Pilonetti, Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability, Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment
  • Danica Lee, Food Safety Section Manager, Department of Environmental Health, Denver
  • Rick Ritter, Executive Director, Otero County Health Department
  • Krista Garand, Food Service Director, Durango School District; and Member of the Colorado Farm to School Task Force
  • Mike Nolan, Mountain Roots Produce

Join us starting this Thursday for a series of Farm to School and Food Safety Web Forums

Join us starting this Thursday for a series Healthy Farms Healthy People Coalition Farm to School Month web forums that take a unique look at food safety and farm to school issues from the producer, food service, and consumer perspectives. The comment period for the new Food Safety Modernization Act and Proposed Produce Safety Rule ends on November 15. This is a critical time to understand the new rules and the implications that they have on growers and the health of students across the country.

The Farm to School Food Safety Project, on Thursday October 17, provides an in-depth look at a comprehensive review and analysis of the statutory and regulatory structure of agricultural policies as they relate to farm to school in Colorado, with a specific focus on the interconnectedness of federal mandates on state regulatory structures and local county health regulations related to food safety.

In this webinar you will learn about four specific resources from the project – each targeted for specific audiences: policymakers/regulators, public health, school food service directors, and producers. In addition, the speakers will discuss how Colorado’s resources can be used as a template for other states to undertake their own comprehensive analysis and why they should do it. Click here for more details and to register.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, the Produce Safety Rule and Farm to School, on Friday October 18, provides an overview of the Food Safety Modernization Act and explores how the proposed produce rules could facilitate or hinder farm to school efforts. While much has been said about the proposed rule’s impact on specific types of producers, this webinar uniquely considers the farm to school implications from the producer and the food service director’s perspectives. Panelists include national agricultural food safety specialists, legal analyst, and farm to school research staff. Click here for more details and to register.

Farm to School and the Cost of Food Safety, on Tuesday October 22, presents findings from a study by the Oregon Public Health Institute that investigated the cost of food safety measures among a sample of small and medium sized Oregon growers participating in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Good Agricultural Practices & Good Handling Practices Audit Verification Program (USDA GAP&GHP).  Hear from public health officials, producers, and school food service directors as they discuss the barriers and how to overcome them. Click here for more details and to register.

Food Safety, Urban Farming, and Farm to School, on Monday October 28, will introduce you to an innovative program in which one of the largest school districts in the country is creating a farm to school program using their own land. Learn about the school farming project AND discuss the food safety issues associated with urban farming, whether existing regulations adequately address the issues, and how Denver Public Schools partners with Colorado State University Extension to ensure food safety in the farming, harvesting, and transport processes while not overburdening the farmers of these small urban plots. Click here for more details and to register.


October 11 is Farm to School Salad Bar Day!

Cross-posted from the Let’s Move Blog
 
By Diane Harris, PhD, MPH, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools program has delivered nearly 2,700 salad bars to schools across the nation since its launch in 2010.  School districts are embracing salad bars as an important tool to showcase locally grown, farm-fresh produce as part of Farm to School programs.  The popularity of Farm to School programs has increased tremendously over the last few years.  Many schools have seen that students choose more fruits and vegetables when products are fresh, locally grown, and picked at the peak of their flavor.  Kids’ choices are reinforced with educational activities in the cafeteria, classroom, and community.

October is National Farm to School Month, and on October 11 we’re celebrating schools across the United States that load their cafeteria’s salad bars with products from farms, dairies, and ranches in their very own communities. Here are some examples of how salad bars donated by Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools are contributing to Farm to School programs:

  • The Vermont Valley Community Farm in Wisconsin provides spinach and other vegetables that they grow in hoop houses to the Mt. Horeb Area School District. Students visit the farm to see first-hand where the food for the salad bar is actually grown.
  • Students at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Maine plant, nurture, and harvest their salad bar vegetables at Roberts Farm Preserve.
  • Missouri schools are using the “Rainbow Days” activity from the Lunch Box as a way to engage students in their salad bar programs. On Rainbow Days, students are challenged with the task of creating a “rainbow” on their tray out of the many local fruits and vegetables offered at the salad bar.
  • Schools in the Montebello School District in California, like many schools throughout California, showcase the featured California-grown product from the Harvest of the Month program in their salad bars.
  • The Kihei Public Charter School in Hawaii supplies its salad bar with strawberries, kale, and even papayas harvested by the students from their school garden.
  • The “Lettuce Try It” campaign is aiming to get 10,000 kids across Georgia to eat fresh, local lettuce from their salad bars during the October Farm-to-School Month.

Salad bars are a good way for schools to showcase fresh, great-tasting, locally produced foods, and the Let’s MoveSalad Bars to Schools initiative makes it easier to get one. The Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools program is available to any school participating in the National School Lunch Program, and the program works to supply salad bar units to schools that apply. Check out the information on how to apply for a salad bar unit and see additional informational resources on the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools Web site.


Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools Web Forum: Postponed

Due to the impact of the government shutdown, including loss of speakers, we are postponing the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools Web Forum that was originally scheduled for Friday October 11. Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience. We will keep you posted with details on the new date and time shortly.

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools was the first in a series of Healthy Farms Healthy People Farm to School Month web forums. All of the other web forums in the series will continue on schedule, as planned.

Stay tuned for more details.


Healthy Farms Healthy People Farm to School Month Web Forum Series

Join us this October in celebrating National Farm to School Month with a series of Healthy Farms Healthy People Farm to School Web Forums that explore farm to school and food safety from health and agriculture perspectives. The series kicks off this Friday with a special look at salad bars in schools to celebrate Farm to School Salad Bar Day.

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools
Friday, October 11, 10 am PT/1 pm ET

Register Today!

Learn about the benefits, challenges, myths and realities of salad bars in schools. Hear success stories and find out how to move a salad bar to your school. Understand how salad bars increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Help promote salad bars in your state!

Panelists:

Check back for more information on additional web forums that we’ll be hosting throughout the month:

  • Farm to School Food Safety Project, Thursday, October 17, 11 am PT/2 pm ET
  • Background on Food Safety Modernization Act and Produce Safety Rule
  • Farm to School and the Cost of Food Safety, Tuesday, October 22, 11 am PT/2 pm ET
  • Food Safety, Urban Farming, and Farm to School, Monday, October 28, 10 am PT/1 pm ET

Click here to REGISTER for Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools.


Take Action: Protect SNAP and SNAP-Ed

Cross posted from PHI

August, 2013

When Congress left DC for their August break, they left with the future of the farm bill and our nutrition programs uncertain. When they return in September, they’ll be trying to find solutions for deeply contentious issues including a standalone nutrition bill in the House of Representatives that could cut more than $40 billion.

The nutrition programs SNAP and SNAP-Ed will be very vulnerable to cuts and harmful changes.

Congress needs to hear loudly and strongly from nutrition advocates that they must protect SNAP and SNAP-Ed. Take action now.

While your members are home for August recess, you have the unique opportunity to connect with them personally and tell them what SNAP-Ed does where you live.

Here are a few things you can do to share the success of SNAP and SNAP-Ed:

1. Tweet

2. Meet with your member of Congress

3. Attend a town hall

Click here to continue reading.