Farm to School Reflections From Louisiana

From our Louisiana State Lead in the National Farm to School Network, Katie Mularz, we share some reflections on Farm to School in Louisiana 2015.

Farm to school made many-a-headline in 2015. Here's a roundup of our five favorite Louisiana farm to school stories throughout the year!

1.         This Week in Louisiana Agriculture's featured our Acadiana High School Seed Change training on their December 11th show! Check it out to see interviews with our very own Katie Mularz, Acadiana High's Brandon Broussard, and Lutcher Elementary School Principal Cynthia Joseph.

2.         LSU Ag Center made headlines with the pilot of their new farm to school initiative, Louisiana Harvest of the Month. Some incredible work getting more local produce on students' lunch trays!

3.         We couldn't have loved this interview with Youth For Healthy Schools' Ron Triggs more. Food justice done by students, for students.

4.         We loved how this Alexandria school came up with a creative (and local!) solution to their school lunch problems.

5.         Finally, what could be better than a cooking competition that involves student chefs, teamwork, and local ingredients (not to mention some local culinary superstars!)?

SEED CHANGE: From the National Farm to School Network, the Seed Change project will help bring local food and food education to more than 1.8 million school children in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. Through mini grants to 100 school sites, in-person trainings at model school districts, in-state networking opportunities and outreach to teachers, school lunch professionals and farmers, we are working to create accessible and sustainable farm to school programs with wide-reaching impact.

The third successful Seed Change training under their belt (above)! Richland Parish Demo Site is teaching ‎seedchange mini-grantees hydroponics, propagation, seedling practices and more!

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   Acadiana High School student shows us how to process honey at their ‎seed change training ‪   

Acadiana High School student shows us how to process honey at their ‎seed change training ‪   

Two Louisiana Bills Have Big Farm to School Impact

On August 1st, both the "Small Purchase Threshold" bill (Senate Bill 184) and the "Urban Ag Incentive Zone" bill (House Bill 761) were signed into Louisiana law. In short, SB 184 makes it easier for schools to work with local farmers by making the school food purchasing process much friendlier for small-scale farms. HB 761, on the other hand, encourages increased production of local food by incentivizing urban agriculture.

To learn more about these advances in Louisiana state policy, be sure to check out LAF2S Executive Director, Katie Mularz's August interview HERE  with the National Farm to School Network where she discusses the ins and outs of both!

Federal Spotlight on Farm to School

Between the Farm to School Act of 2015 and October's Farm to School Big Day of Action, this year saw overwhelming support for farm to school on the national stage! And while we eagerly await the results of the Child Nutrition Act (the Senate Agriculture Committee has said they will address CNR in early 2016), we're greatly encouraged by the all-around support for farm to school we've witnessed throughout the CNR proceedings. 

Every Student Succeeds Act Ushers in New Era for Education

On December 10th, President Obama signed into law the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act. While the new law maintains basic testing requirements held by its predecessor, No Child Left Behind, it makes some critical changes regarding the stakes and means of evaluating those scores.  Outside of being a big moment for education more broadly, Every Student Succeeds maintains funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Initiative which has been used to support some farm to school programming in the past. 

Acadiana Farm to School Demonstration site

Acadiana Farm to School Demonstration site

THANK YOU! To all of our LAF2S Alliance members and Louisiana Farm to School advocates for your continued support and collaboration.

Katie Mularz, Louisiana Farm to School & LA State Lead, National Farm to School Network

Katie Mularz

Katie Mularz

The Louisiana Farm to School Alliance is a statewide network of organizations working in food, farming, nutrition and education to share resources and support for Farm to School and build a dialogue for statewide programming. Follow their website and sign up for their newsletter.

Pam Kingfisher