Fall is the quintessential time to visit a farm with apple and pear picking, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, cider donuts and so much more!
We will be celebrating local agriculture the whole month – CT Grown for CT Kids Week is October 7-11th with National School Lunch Week October 14-18th. Check out the National Farm to School month toolkit for wonderful ideas to celebrate the whole month!
We have jobs open at Jobs.UConn.edu – an Assistant Extension Educator with UConn 4-H based in Torrington, an Assistant Extension Educator in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, and a Research Assistant 2 – Connecticut Farm To School Specialist based in Vernon. All positions will have statewide responsibilities. Apply today, applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis.
Location: Tolland County Extension Center, 24 Hyde Avenue, Vernon
Commitment: 20 hours/week part time position; January 2019-May 2019. This position will be guaranteed through May 2019, with the possibility of continuing through the summer.
Posting Close Date: Monday, December 3, 2018
Organization Overview : The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) at University of Connecticut is committed to its status as a land grant institution, serving Connecticut and the global economy through research, education, and public engagement. CAHNR’s vision is to provide for a global sustainable future through scientific discovery, innovation, and community engagement. UConn Extension fulfills the land grant University’s mission of outreach and public engagement. Over 100 UConn Extension specialists work in the 169 local communities across Connecticut as educators, problem solvers, catalysts, collaborators and stewards. Our eight regional Extension Centers, the Sea Grant program at Avery Point, the 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm, the Home and Garden Education Center and the UConn Extension office in Storrs are strategically located throughout the state to meet local needs. UConn Extension enhances small businesses, the economic and physical well-being of families, and offers opportunities to improve the decision- making capacity of community leaders.
Program Overview : Since 2012, the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension has worked to strengthen farm to school in the state. Our Put Local on Your Tray Program, launched in 2015, helps schools source, serve, and celebrate local food. We offer communication materials that feature 16 seasonal products and several resources to help school food directors connect with local farmers. For the 2018-19 school year, 56 school districts have signed up to participate in Put Local on Your Tray; participating districts commit to serving locally grown products on “Local Tray Days.” In our work ahead, we plan to add a new set of educational resources that can be used by classroom teachers that reinforce learning about local food that is being served in the cafeteria. Our major program partners are CT Dept. of Education and FoodCorps CT.
Position Overview : UConn Extension is looking for an experienced and committed individual to join our Tray team to assist in outreach efforts in 2019. A successful candidate will have a proven track record of:
● Outstanding professional relationship and collaboration skills
● Excellent skills in communications and outreach
● Experience working in classroom settings and developing activities for students in K-8 settings
● Managing multiple deliverables with deadlines
● Familiarity with Farm to School programming in Connecticut
This Education and Outreach Consultant will report to the Associate Extension Educator in Sustainable Food Systems, Jiff Martin. The Project Coordinator, Molly Deegan, will help guide day-to-day activities. The position will be filled ASAP, with a preferred start date of January 1, 2019.
1. 35% time = Develop new educational materials – Develop new resources for classroom use (K-8) that reinforce Put Local On Your Tray program materials that are being used in cafeterias of participating districts. Work with a professional designer, if needed, to develop these new tools. This task includes dissemination of final products to participating districts.
2. 35% time = Program representation – Attend Connecticut and regional major conferences, professional meetings, and events to represent the program and deliver presentations about the Put Local On Your Tray Program. Wherever possible, dates are indicated below. Please do NOT apply unless you can fulfill the majority of the following:
○ 3-5 presentations for School Nutrition Association of Connecticut Regional Chapter Meetings to provide overview of program resources and tools
○ Attend and staff info table at CT Farm to School Conference (Jan 22, 2019)
○ Attend and staff info table at CT Northeast Organic Farming Assoc Winter Conference (Mar 2nd, 2019, location tba)
○ Attend and staff info table at Ag Day at the Capitol (March 20, 2019, Hartford)
○ Attend and staff info table at Farm-to-Institution New England Summit (April 2-4, Leominster, MA)
○ Attend and participate at CT Farm to School Collaborative Meetings – Meets monthly (every third Wednesday, 9:30 – 11:30, Hartford)
3. 30% time = Communications – Ensure consistent and reliable interaction with partners andstakeholders. This includes:
○ Respond to enquiries from stakeholders interested in the program.
○ Respond to enquiries and requests for resources from school districts already participating in program.
○ Social media – Develop and schedule regular posts to Facebook and Instagram accounts twice a week.
○ E-Newsletter – Publish monthly e-newsletter for program partners and stakeholders.
○ Maintain inventory of program materials (posters, stickers, bookmarks).
○ Assist with gathering data from participating school districts at the end of the school year.
Compensation : We anticipate filling this position for a start date of January 1, 2019 . The position will be guaranteed through May 2019, with the possibility of continuing through the summer. The compensation will be: $25/hour for up to 20 hours per week. Due to the nature of the position, the expectation of 20 hours per week is an annual average, but it likely to vary based on outreach events. Travel costs will be reimbursed at the applicable federal rate.
Required Qualifications :
● B.A. or B.S. in sustainable food systems, agriculture, natural resources, public health, education, or related field
● A minimum of 2-3 years experience in education, agriculture, or related work in a not-for-profit setting or extension program setting
● Outstanding communication skills, teaching skills, and the ability to work with teams
● A strong understanding of school environments
● Strong work ethic and reliability
● Oral speaking skills, including experience as a presenter
● Comfortable working with individuals and organizations committed to meaningful social change and food justice through sustainable food and agriculture systems
● Excellent competency with computer and communications technologies including Microsoft Office Suite, Google Drive, and major social media platforms
● Must own a vehicle and be willing and able to travel across state for events or meetings
● Must be willing to commute to UConn Extension office in Vernon
● Must be available until May 2019
● Flexibility and optimism a must
● Experience working in school cafeterias or closely with school food services
● Good understanding of the federal meal guidelines of the National School Lunch Program and other child nutrition programs in school settings
● Familiarity with function and role of education service providers, including CT State Department of Education and USDA Food and Nutrition Services
What’s in it for you?
● Work in an environment with colleagues that see broad connections between sustainable agriculture, food systems, and food justice
● Develop professional relationships with a new cohort of leaders in farming and food systems in Connecticut and across the nation
● Work alongside a supervisor willing to support your own professional development and networking opportunities
● Develop new contacts and introductions across University of Connecticut, state agencies, and at USDA
To Apply: Our team is more innovative and responsive when our staff represents a diversity of perspectives and life experiences. People of color, people with disabilities, veterans, and LGBTQ candidates are strongly encouraged to apply. UConn provides reasonable accommodations to employees as required by law. Applicants with disabilities may request reasonable accommodation at any point in the employment process.
To apply, send a cover letter, resume, 3 references to Jiff Martin, Associate Extension Educator in Sustainable Food Systems. Send all documents together in ONE email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line please use this description: “Last Name, First Name – Tray Education and Outreach Consultant position.” Only competitive candidates will be invited to participate further in the recruitment process. Position closes Monday, December 3, 2018 .
University of Connecticut is an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and Program
October meant apple challenges for school districts participating in the Put Local On Your Tray Project. You can find recipes for apples on the website. They also share the following about apples:
In the Past: Apple trees belong to the rose family, and originated in Central Asia in the mountains of southern Kazakhastan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and China. It is perhaps the earliest tree to be cultivated for food.
In the Soil: There are 7,500 recognized varieties of apple today around the world. Apples grow only in temperate climates because they need a cold period in which to go dormant. Some trees can withstand temperatures down to -40 F.
In the Kitchen: Each apple variety ripens at a different time of season, and has a unique combination of firmness, crispness, acidity, juiciness, and sweetness. These factors make some varieties more suited to eating fresh, and others to storing or cooking.
In the Body: Apples are a wonderful source of potassium and vitamin C. They also contain pectin, which supports healthy cholesterol, blood sugar, and cellulose levels. The apple skin is where most of these beneficial nutrients are concentrated.
In Connecticut: Out of the 7,500 varieties of apple worldwide, 60 are grown right here in Connecticut. Our apples are generally available from mid July through the end of December.
Check out www.ctapples.org for more recipes and a list of orchards in Connecticut.
VERNON, CT, (June 13, 2018) – UConn Extension and the Connecticut State Department of Education is currently inviting school food service professionals across the state to sign up for the Put Local on Your Tray Program in the upcoming 2018-19 school year. Schools and districts that sign up will get help increasing fresh, locally grown products in their cafeterias. Sign ups will be open until the new school year starts in September.
According to USDA’s 2014 Farm to School Census, over 70% of schools in CT are offering farm to school programming, which might include hands-on activities in school gardens, cooking classes after school, and/or serving local food in the cafeteria. CSDE and UConn Extension are now partnering to increase school commitments to more purchases from local farms. Districts who sign up for the Tray Program will pledge to feature local ingredients at least twice per season(s) of their choice. Schools choose the Farm to School promotional activities that fit their needs. For example, activities might include: hosting a special taste test in the cafeteria (e.g. kale chips), marketing the products they regularly get from local growers (such as milk), using a holiday or celebration day on the calendar to feature local produce (e.g. new varieties of apples promoted during CT Grown for CT Kids Week), or integrating a recipe into their regular menu that relies on local ingredients for several months (e.g. winter root slaw).
Last year, there were a total of thirty four districts who took the pledge. The program is in its second year and continues to learn, grow, and adapt as Farm to School grows. We hope to see an increase this year, with a goal of fifty school districts. Yolanda Burt, Senior Director of Child Nutrition for Hartford Public Schools and contributor for the Program’s suite of tools, thinks districts need to define ‘local’ for themselves. She states, “Our definition of local includes what is grown and processed within 250 miles of Hartford, and/or purchasing food from small businesses to support Hartford businesses and further job creation for Hartford residents.” Districts who sign up and take the pledge are encouraged to define the criteria for local products based on what is possible and meaningful to their community.
Food Service Director for Avon, Canton, and Regional School District #10, Maggie Dreher, says, “I believe we should provide our students with the freshest, tastiest ingredients possible. An apple is not just an apple, but a story – a potential place to connect to the community.” The Program welcomes those who are not a part of school food service to tell that story with Put Local on Your Tray communication materials, when educating children about local food. There is a materials request sheet available online, for interested school community members (teachers, parents, volunteers, etc.) to ask for any hard copies of our posters, bookmarks, stickers, etc. at http://putlocalonyourtray.uconn.edu.
Contact your school administrator or food service director to encourage them to sign up and be recognized and promoted as a Tray district! Many schools already supply local products, without necessarily promoting it as such (in items like milk, or certain produce from their distributors). Put them in touch with Put Local on Your Tray for credit to be paid where it’s due!
For more information please visit http://putlocalonyourtray.uconn.edu or call 203-824-7175. Put Local On Your Tray is a project of UConn Extension, in partnership with the CT State Department of Education, FoodCorps Connecticut, and New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC).
Big things are happening with farm to school in New London. The school district has a team of administrators, teachers, principals, non-profit organizations, and FoodCorps service members who are working towards one shared goal: “Every New London student will graduate educated and empowered to grow food, eat well, and live a healthy life.”
The folks working toward this goal and leading the initiatives are innovative and inspiring. Food Service Director Sam Wilson has been essential in sourcing local produce for her meal programs. She’s partnered with FoodCorps for four years now, to enhance the healthy school environment with hands-on nutrition and garden lessons. New this school year is an exciting collaboration with Brigaid. Brigaid is placing professional chefs in New London cafeterias, making school lunch more like fine dining—real plates, new recipes, and more scratch cooking.
This new effort, coupled with our service members seems to be a winning recipe (pun intended). Our two corps members in New London, Jess and Katie, are creating an interactive cafeteria environment. They know that if students experience new foods in some way—through tasting it, cooking it, or growing it—they are more likely to eat it and enjoy it. So, as the chefs start to roll out new recipes like roasted tomato soup and seasoned watermelon, students are giving feedback that is considered before the final product makes it onto the menu. At the same time, Jess and Katie are also creating interactive lessons and activities to expand upon students’ knowledge of where food comes from and how it grows. This leaves students feeling excited and empowered to make healthy meal choices on their own!
Just in time for National Farm To School Month in October, UConn Extension and its partners at the Connecticut State Department of Education, FoodCorps Connecticut, and the New England Dairy and Food Council are excited to announce an opportunity to participate in a new program called “Put Local On Your Tray”.
Put Local On Your Tray promotes local food in Connecticut schools. Participants receive support and materials that help school districts plan, serve, and celebrate locally grown food. “When kids have an opportunity to learn and engage with fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables in a positive way, they are much more likely to eat them,” shared Dana Stevens, Program Director.
In the 2014-2015 school year, schools in Connecticut spent $7,244,580 on local food, and 70% of school districts that responded to the 2015 Farm to School Census offered farm-to-school programming; that’s 97 districts, 706 schools, and 355,489 students! Schools report that farm to school programs can increase the number of students purchasing school breakfast and lunch, improve consumption of healthier foods at school, and reduce plate waste.
Local procurement can be integrated into all types of child nutrition programs, including: breakfast, lunch, after-school snack, supper, and summer meals. Connecticut also celebrates CT Grown for CT Kids Week from October 3 – 7th, offering schools another opportunity to take one small step for farm to school.
“Put Local On Your Tray has proved to be an invaluable component of our educational efforts at Middletown Public Schools to connect our students to local farms and agriculture while promoting overall wellness to enhance and maximize student achievement,” states Ava McGlew, MS, RD, CD-N, Food Service Director Middletown Public Schools.
UConn Extension has developed posters, stickers, newsletters, and recipes to support school districts in connecting students to fresh, seasonal foods. Contact your school administrator or food service director to encourage participation in this new program.
Weekly Column: Farm to School Programs Create New Opportunities for Farmers
By USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
This October, just like every other month during the school year, school menus will feature an array of products from local and regional farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. Kids of all ages will dig up lessons in school gardens, visit farms, harvest pumpkins, and don hair nets for tours of processing facilities. Science teachers – and English, math, and social studies instructors, too – will use food and agriculture as a tool in their classrooms, so that lessons about the importance of healthy eating permeate the school learning environment.
An investment in the health of America’s students through Farm to School is also an investment in the farmers and ranchers who grow the food and an investment in the health of local economies. In school year 2011-2012, schools purchased $386 million in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers. And an impressive 56 percent of school districts report that they will buy even more local foods in future school years. Farm to school programs exist in every state in the country.
For example, the Lake County Community Development Corporation in Bozeman, Montana reports a 40 percent increase in revenues to farmers based on school sales alone. The Southwest Georgia Project, a community development non-profit, notes that “We’re actually seeing our farmers have hope. The farm to school program allows them to see an opportunity for a sustainable living for themselves and their families.” Testimonials in a USDA video released this week highlight the degree to which farm to school programs support healthy eating behaviors among children and provide positive economic impacts to local communities.
Strengthening local food systems is one of the four pillars of USDA’s commitment to rural economic development, and Farm to School programs can play an important role. To support the expansion of Farm to School programs into more schools and expand opportunity for farmers and ranchers, USDA offers grants, training, and technical assistance. Since the start of our Farm to School Grant Program in fiscal year 2013, for example, USDA has awarded grants to 139 projects spanning 46 states and the District of Columbia, serving more than 16,200 schools and 4.55 million students, nearly 43% of whom live in rural communities.
Just this week, I visited the George Washington Carver Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia and the Virginia State Fair to announce more than $52 million in new USDA grants nationwide to support the development of the local, regional and organic food sectors. You can learn more about USDA’s investments at www.usda.gov/results.
At USDA we’re transforming school food and creating a healthier next generation. We’re happy to celebrate in October, but we’re going to be cheering for schools with farm to school programs all year long. When students have experiences such as tending a school garden or visiting a farm, they’re more likely to make healthy choices in the cafeteria. I see the change every time I visit a cafeteria; students light up when meeting their farmer. They are piling their trays full of healthy foods, they are learning healthy habits that they will carry with them for life, and they are learning an appreciation for the American farmer that they will carry with them their entire lives.
Across the country, an increasing number of schools and districts have begun to source more foods locally and to provide complementary educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, and nutrition. This nationwide movement to enrich children’s bodies and minds while supporting local economies is often referred to as “farm to school.” The term encompasses efforts that bring local or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias; hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes; and the integration of food-related education into the regular, standards-based classroom curriculum. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports such efforts through its Farm to School Program, which includes research, training, technical assistance, and grants.