New state laws boost farm to school in Louisiana

The first is Senate Bill 184 – the “Small Purchase Threshold” bill. Up until now, any food purchase a school made larger than $30,000 was subject to a complicated bidding process, known as a “formal bid.” This made it difficult for schools to get seasonal and local foods because the process is often challenging for smaller-scale, local farmers. The passage of SB 184 increased the small purchase threshold to meet the federal standard of $150,000, enabling schools to work more closely with small-scale farmers to serve local food to Louisiana children.

The second is House Bill 761 – the “Urban Ag Incentive Zone” bill. This bill creates urban agriculture incentive areas and reduces taxes on land used for urban farming. It greatly reduces expenses associated with acquiring urban agricultural land, and in turn encourages Louisianans to grow more local food.

Source: New state laws boost farm to school in Louisiana


Markets can help by encouraging members of their communities to write letters to the editors of local papers and by doing Dot Surveys to capture what market goers  think about high standards for good food in schools, and then sending those sheets to your congresspeople. This is a very clear line in the sand to me, with large corporations fighting this necessary change in order to maintain control and reap large profits through using unhealthy commodity products. Let’s educate our communities.

“I’ve heard a lot of the reasons we should take a step back, and roll back some of the standards, and I want to address several of those concerns. One of those concerns is that participation is down and therefore there must be a reason to roll back and reduce the standards. Well the reality is that school breakfast participation is up,” Vilsack said. “Second, free-and-reduced lunch participation is actually up. What is down is paid lunch and that didn’t start with the standards. That actually happened several years before the standards were enacted, in large part I suspect, because of the economic realities we face.”

The Obama administration will also provide $2.6 million for training programs for cafeteria staff and allocate $5.6 million to the USDA’s Smarter Lunchroom strategies that help states develop ideas that will encourage healthy eating. Vilsack also referenced its Team Up for School Nutrition Success initiative, which helps rural schools come up with creative strategies to provide healthy food.

“If you’re a rural school and you’re having a hard time because your student population numbers are down and your state aid may not be what it once was, and the cafeteria is having a hard time, we may set you up with a rural school who has been successful in figuring this out,” Vilsack said. “We provide a mentoring relationship to call a colleague and you can ask, ‘How did you handle this?’ and we now see that is indeed working, and we have now expanded this beyond the deep south.”
<p>Source: <a href=””>Agriculture Secretary Pushes Back Against Critics Of Healthy School Lunch Program | ThinkProgress</a></p>

Two new laws in LA help farmers

News from Recirculating Farms Coalition:

“Two new bills in Louisiana that support bringing more good food to communities through local agriculture are now law. The first creates a “farm-to-school” program, which allows Louisiana public schools to communicate directly with local farmers to buy food. Previously, for any food item over $25,000, schools had to go through a complicated and difficult public bidding process, which often left out local farmers because they could not participate, be it due to lack of time or technology. Now, schools can connect with farms for any items under the federal minimum purchasing threshold, which is currently $150,000! This will bring more fresh local food to Louisiana schools. As over 65% of students in Louisiana public schools qualify for free or reduced price meals, the new law will promote providing children with fresh food who may get their primary meal, or even most or all of their meals at school.

Pepper Sarah EbonyThe second new law is an urban agriculture incentive, which allows Louisiana cities to reduce taxes on land usedRooftop hydro towers with herbs smaller for farming. The hope is that more landowners will be motivated to allow use of their properties for urban agriculture and share the tax savings with farmers by leasing at more affordable rates. The intent is to increase access to affordable land in cities for farming and thus also increase availability of local fresh food.

Marianne Sen Thompson and Katie cropRecirculating Farms Coalition, working with students from Loyola New Orleans Law, various farmers, food advocates and especially the National Farm to School Network and Louisiana Farm to School Alliance successfully moved these 2 very important concepts through the Louisiana Legislature with Rep. Ebony Woodruff and Sen. Francis Thompson. On August 1st, with unanimous approval of the House and Senate, they both became law.”

Call for Papers for 2015 Farm to Table International Symposium


Call for Papers

  Farm to Table International (F2Ti), a three-day, multi-track symposium on the policy and practice of food and drink, is currently accepting papers for its 3rd annual program, taking place August 8-10, 2015 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. F2Ti features the brightest thought leaders and leading practitioners in the burgeoning farm-to-table movement. F2Ti explores the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of food and drink sourced locally to globally. It takes place in tandem with the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s Annual Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO, an event attracting food and beverage professionals from across the country.

This year’s theme, “A Feast for the Senses,” spotlights the sensual aspects of food and drink at every stage of the agricultural-culinary cycle. Topics will include, but are not limited to, best practices in urban farming, bringing products to market, sourcing locally, enhancing sustainability, and the latest trends and developments in the industry, including food science, security, and safety.

Proposals for educational sessions should correspond to the current theme, “A Feast for the Senses,” and should be designed to fit one of the following educational tracks:

•    Crop to Cup (Brewing, Distilling, Vinting, plus non-alcoholic beverages)
•    Farming and Production
•    Food and Beverage Journalism and Media
•    Farm to School
•    Food Innovation (Science, Technology, Trends, etc.)

Interested presenters should refer to the conference website at for additional information regarding submission requirements as well as the consideration and selection process.

The deadline for submitting presentations for review is February 20, 2015. Presentations for the F2Ti program will be selected by the Farm to Table International Executive Advisory Council.

F2Ti is produced by the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in partnership with the SoFAB Institute and the LSU AgCenter.

Connecting Students and Farmers—Still Trying | FoodAnthropology

This campaign (just down the road from me) has already done amazing work to get the conversation and the organizing started for regional products to be used in the Southeastern Louisiana University campus purchasing process; FYI-this university sits within a very active farming community and many of its farmers sell to nearby New Orleans outlets. The campus student group Reconnect and their academic advisor Dr. David Burley continue to offer as much information and to open as many communication channels as they can to assist Aramark in understanding what the campus wants, but to no avail. In response Aramark has deliberately undermined their efforts with their embargo against meetings and their”food giveaway” tactic! Using markets as organizing wedges can be the best way to keep the pressure on head-in-the-sand institutions; big props to the Reconnect students and to Dr. Burley for keeping these efforts going year after year. If you have any resources or ideas to assist their efforts to put pressure on Aramark, feel free to email them.

Connecting Students and Farmers—Still Trying | FoodAnthropology.

GOP proposes waiver to schools healthy food mandate, arguing too much being thrown in the trash

Just remember, the pressure will not end. The idiocy of whining about what is thrown away when that has never been measured before and that making these changes meaningful will take a whole systems approach will need to be pointed out again and again and again and again and again….

GOP proposes waiver to schools' healthy food mandate, arguing too much being thrown in the trash |

As Farm to Plate movement blooms, Vermont food and farm jobs help drive economy

In January 2011, when the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan was released, an economic analysis indicated that with every five percent increase in food production in the state, 1,700 new jobs would be created. Goal #1 of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan is to increase Vermonters’ local food consumption from five to ten percent over ten years.

As Farm to Plate movement blooms, Vermont food and farm jobs help drive economy – Burlington Sustainable Agriculture |