DIG IN! With Nourish Colorado – September Newsletter: School Food

DIG IN! with Nourish Colorado
Dear partners,    We hope your September has been full of sunflowers, apples, warm days, and chilly nights! September is an eventful month for families: All our students are settling back at school. The pandemic revealed, once again, just how critical schools are to feeding their students and family members with high-quality, consistent meals. This month’s newsletter is devoted to school food, because we are huge fans of the school nutrition staff all over Colorado who work tirelessly with very small budgets to feed their communities. You will find ways Double Up Food Bucks can partner with school food programs, updates on LoProCO school trainings, very pressing advocacy opportunities to support robust child nutrition programs, highlights of our Farm to Early Care partners, and information on events this fall like our virtual land access conversations and corner store pop up events.   Happy back to school and Fall to you all! – The Nourish Team 
Double Up Food Bucks This month the Double Up team has been focusing on spreading the word about the Double Up program in the East Colfax Neighborhood. We are reaching out to schools in the neighborhood to remind them that students who are receiving P-EBT are also able to participate in the Double Up Food Bucks program. Schools can support their students having access to more fresh, Colorado-grown veggies by including this information in school newsletters and communications. 
Local Procurement Colorado (LoProCO) & Culinary Trainings We continue building out the LoProCO Workshop series with plans to launch in Southeast Colorado. This three-part series is slated to start on Jan 28, followed by the 2.0 workshop on March 11, with 3.0 scheduled for November/December 2022. If you are in Baca, Bent, Prowers, Kiowa, Cheynne, Otero, Eastern Las Animas, or Crowley counties – we will be reaching out to you! Check out our flyer here! We also plan to bring this series to Northeastern Colorado in late 2022/early 2023. Phillips, Sedgwick, Logan, Yuma, Washington, Kit Carson, and Lincoln counties are on our radar. Please reach out if you are curious to learn more!     For those of you who participated in the CO Proud School Meal Day on September 21, we hope you had a blast promoting all the wonderful products we grow, raise, and produce in our state. Check out this video of Chef Jess highlighting a delicious recipe that can be used to feature CO produce. Plus, October is Farm to School Month, so you have plenty of opportunities to highlight our state!    
We have several more LoProCO monthly calls scheduled:  September 28, 2-3 pm – Andrea Alma, the Mountain Plains Regional Farm to School Coordinator at the USDA Office of Community Food Systems, will share the varying ways USDA supports Farm to School Efforts and highlight the upcoming Farm to School Grant! Recipe features will include highlighting peppers and chiles. Register Here  October 27, 1-2 pm – Three panelists will join us to share about Farm to School programming from an Educator and Student point of view. Topics like Greenhouse to Cafeteria, Food Systems Leadership, and Agricultural Education will be discussed. And then we are featuring some delicious recipes using carrots and potatoes. Register Here  November 9, 2-3 pm – Panelists who support Farm to School programming will share stories from three organizations: Guidestone Colorado, Green Thumb Initiative, and Ogallala Commons. Recipe features will include beets, parsnips, and if we are feeling ambitious, apples!  Register Here  
Questions: What does federal budget reconciliation have to do with school food? What can we do about it? Answer: A lot!     Congress is currently negotiating a budget reconciliation package that could include significant funding for child nutrition programs. The House Committee on Education and Labor has advanced its portion of the overall $3.5 trillion budget, including $46 billion for child nutrition. Provisions that are of interest to us and our partners include:   $634 million for a Healthy School Meal Incentives Demonstration Program for schools to improve school nutrition, including hands-on experiential learning, increasing scratch cooking, and procuring local, regional, and culturally appropriate foods and foods produced by “underserved” or “limited resource” farmers (as defined by USDA). $500 million for school kitchen equipment grants which is essential to growing the capacity of schools across the country to cook healthy, from-scratch meals featuring locally procured foods. Expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision allowing more schools to offer free meals to all students in a streamlined manner.   Expansion of Summer EBT nationwide. And much more to support equitable access to affordable, quality early care and primary education. 
Our partners at National Farm to School Network (NFSN) and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) have put together resources to understand what is happening and what actions we can all take to support child nutrition! For an overview of what reconciliation is and what it could mean for child nutrition (as well as many other agriculture provisions), read NSAC’s recent blog here. For an overview of what this budget could mean for child nutrition and farm to school, read NSFN’s blog here. This piece is also full of good talking points for your advocacy efforts!     Now is the time to advocate for child nutrition priorities with the Senate! The House will put pressure on Senators to make cuts to the proposed budget. Now is the time to contact our Senators and ask to support strong child nutrition measures. We support all of the child nutrition provisions in the House proposal.   Sign on to this letter to ask for strong child nutrition provisions moving forward. And call our Senators today!   Contact Senator Michael Bennet: 202-224-5852 Contact Senator John Hickenlooper: 202-224-5941 
Partner Spotlight: Britt MartensCACFP Nutrition Consultant and Farm to ECE Coordinator at CDPHE, and Intern at Nourish Colorado.    Welcoming to the team our core partner, intern, and chef Britt Martens of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) ECE team. Britt is completing her practicum and capstone project with our Healthy Food in Institutions team and collaborating with the LoProCO program and culinary trainings. “CDPHE values the partnership with Nourish and the professional insight provided by chef instructors creates long term learning for ECE professionals,” Britt said. 
The Colorado Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) Coalition and Farm to Child team at CDPHE works to improve access to nutritious, local, fresh, seasonal food. The team works strategically to increase community activation through stakeholders, partners, and ECE professionals to provide funding, resources, and training opportunities. Currently they are working to finalize the development of the Colorado Farm to Child Guide: Eating, Growing and Learning. The group works to create resources such as the guide, that increase accessibility of “Farm to” for all those working with children. A core component of Farm to Child is local procurement. The team and coalition work to engage food system partners, farmers, food hubs, and ECE providers to better understand barriers and challenges in the process of procurement. They pilot and fund programs that seek to better understand these barriers, and continually pivot their work to increase successful procurement of local foods.    Britt encourages individuals to begin their food system work at the community level by engaging audiences in conversations centered on need/access, cultural relevance, and health and wellness. “Listen to the community you wish to serve! Building a program that is informed by the people you wish to serve will be the first step in a positive direction. Our work is improved with each added voice at our table. I invite all who are interested in Farm to Child, to join our coalition and to share your experiences, expertise, and voice as we continue build Farm to Child in Colorado.”  
Funder Spotlight: The Gates Family Foundation   The Gates Family Foundation has been a long-time supporter of Nourish Colorado’s policy and advocacy and healthy food in institutions work. The Foundation recently awarded us a grant to continue supporting our work in these areas. Specifically, the Foundation will fund our efforts to create and support farm to school programs throughout the state. We are proud to partner with the Gates Family Foundation to reshape the food system by shifting the food supply chain into a true food value chain. 
Join Us!
Land Access Conversations *Virtual*  We are partnering with CU Boulder Masters of the Environment (MENV) graduate students to facilitate pressing food systems discussions around Land Access and Ownership on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 from 9-10 am MST. We will (virtually) bring in a few special local guests who work on and have lived experience in these important issues to engage in conversations and share resources with you. Learn more and register for free today!    Check out other upcoming events! Double Up Pop-Up Events We kicked off our Double Up Pop-Up events this month at one of our corner store locations Tejon Market on September 15, and are hosting another soon at our Syracuse Market location on October 15! Come on over for some live music, face painting, food demonstrations with food from East Denver Food Hub, local art, and more! Learn how to get more fresh fruits and veggies at local corner stores, grocery stores, and farmers markets through Double Up. These community events are free and open to everyone! 
Let’s Dig In! Together to Transform the Food System Thank you for digging in with us again this month, and we hope you continue to read our newsletter each month! If you haven’t already, pleasesubscribe. We are working to sustain – and grow – our initiatives across the state and to do the advocacy we know must be done to make these efforts the norm. Through an individual contribution or a corporate sponsorship, we most respectfully ask that you contribute whatever you can, whenever you can, to support our work and help us in these endeavors. For every part you play in transforming the food system, we appreciate you! 
Nourish Colorado   Nourish Colorado 1490 Lafayette St., #403 Denver, CO 80218   Get In Touch Support Our Work  

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