2019 Farm to School Census Overview

2019 Farm to School Census Overview


hello thank you for joining us to learn all about the 2019 Farm to School census this presentation is intended for all individuals representing school food authorities will be participating in the Farm to School census in 2019 we are all so excited about this year’s census and want to make sure that all of you have the most up-to-date information needed to accurately complete this survey my name is Robert Ek I’m a program analyst with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Office of Community Food Systems and I will be the main point of contact for our team on this year’s Farm to School census this year the census outreach will be conducted by our partners at Abt associates but our team at OCFS will be here to support you as well joining me today is Jenna Siegel Midwest Farm to School regional lead hi everyone thank you Robert for the introduction I’m so excited to be joined today to share some tips on how to complete the census and how to work with partners in your communities to accurately fill out this year at census if you are watching this presentation we are assuming that you will be representing a school Food Authority or SFA and we also assume that you will be responsible for completing the upcoming 2019 Farm to School census this fall by the end of this presentation we’ll covered the following an overview of Farm to School census itself and its overall purpose the timeline of the data collection period for the Farm to School census and what you can expect when you sit down with the Farm to School census survey for the first time and get ready to answer questions to start out I’ll be handing over the mic to Jenna Jenna will be going into more detail about what Farm to School means and how to ensure that your responses reflect all the farm to school activities that schools in your district or authority area have been doing plan to do or will be engaging in the future thanks Robert as many of you are aware farm to school commune so many things for you and your community we often think of farm to school as being comprised of three main categories of activities craftsmen base cafeteria based and community based to engage in Farm to School Activities your school can participate and all these types of activities on an ad-hoc basis or they can be part of a comprehensive farm to school program they don’t have to all be focused on procurement or activities occurring in the cafeterias but can also be happening in the community at farm field trips for example where students are learning from producers or in the garden where students can learn about how different local food is grown and are given the opportunity to taste grow and cook items grown on a farm or in a school garden so let’s talk a bit about the census the Farm to School census is a voluntary data collection effort intended to provide an estimate of the level of farm to school activity nationwide the Farm to School census is administered by the USDA’s office of community food systems for additional background the United States a part of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service FNS is responsible for administering the nation’s school feeding programs in 2010 the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act was amended to formally establish a Farm to School program within USDA to improve access to local food in schools sms established the Office of Community Food Systems or OCFS in order to maintain a clearinghouse of information on Farm to School Activities nationwide the Office of Community Food Systems has three main goals first we distribute farm to school grants which we done made over 300 awards so far across the country second we provide training and technical assistance support schools and school districts to use more local foods in the school meals themselves lastly we disseminate research and data on Farm to School which is where the Farm to School census comes in thanks Jenna now diving into the Farm to School census itself let’s go through some common questions that we often receive about Farm to School census so Jenna can you tell us what the Farm to School census actually is of course the USDA is required by statute to establish reasonable goals for increasing the availability of local food in schools as part of this mandated mission USDA’s food nutrition service will conduct its third round to school centers this year to confirming the extent of farm to school activity across the country the Farm to School census is a voluntary survey of all school food authorities participating in federal school feeding program fascinating so the second question why is USDA conducting the Farm to School census good question Robert the Farm to School census is a data set that attempts to illustrate the growth and intensity of Farm to School initiatives across the country while identifying and highlighting all of your efforts to increase the amount of local food and agriculture based education that is provided to participants in federal child nutrition programs the census helps us to learn about what types of activities that school food authorities or SFA is engage in what challenges schools face and trying to implement farm to school programs as well as many other questions we’ll go into detail later in this presentation this information can then be used to ensure the SFA’s farmers and state-level partners have the resources they need to implement successful farm to school program thanks Jenna so we’ve talked about what the Farm to School census is and we’ve talked about why the Farm to School census is conducted so the next question is how many other Farm to School census have there been there has actually been to prior farm to school campuses in order to establish goals related to increasing the availability of local foods in schools the USDA food nutrition service conducted the first nationwide Farm to School census also called the census in 2013 to serve as a baseline for data collection on Farm to School efforts in 2015 SNS conducted a second census to measure progress against that baseline asking about farm school efforts in public school districts as well as private schools and charter schools the 2019 Farm to School census will be the third time the FNS has reached out to school food authorities to gather this information to seek results from prior Farm to School census efforts you can visit our website at Farm to School census FNS USDA dot-gov fantastic so now that we’ve covered all of those questions who are the respondents completing the survey in the Farm to School census the Farm to School census should be completed by school food authorities or SFA’s as we call them who participate in federal school feeding programs regardless of whether a survey manages one or multiple school districts we are still seeking data at the SFA level only Farm to School census slide 6 so we just talked about who is completing the census surveys but right now we want to go into a little more detail about who is completing the Farm to School census and make sure that everyone is on the same page before we move on as mentioned earlier the USDA Food and Nutrition Service administers school feeding programs including school lunch school breakfast and other similar programs the Farm to School census is primarily concerned with the variety and volume of Farm to School activity and the procurement for the 2018 and 2019 school year we also would like to capture information about other relevant nutrition and agricultural education that is going on in schools across the country because this survey is primarily focused on the activity surrounding school nutrition trends the primary respondents for the upcoming census are SFA’s an SFA is the entity responsible for procurement of food for school food program supported by the National School Lunch Program funds as the SFA may be responsible for one school district or multiple school districts and if you manage multiple school districts please do your best to respond to the census in a way that is give of the different policies and activities that may be happening in your schools all schools that receive federal support from USDA’s child nutrition programs are to be considered for the Farm to School census this includes public schools charter schools not-for-profit schools and residential childcare institutions now Jenna is going to walk through some of the questions that we might be seeing on the Farm to School census for the purposes of Farm to School census respondents all divided twenty-six different examples of relevant Farm to School Activities and asked to identify how many of those activities you are doing plan to be doing or have done in the past the 2019 census will focus specifically on any activity that happened during the 2018 to 2019 school year to make sure to refer to production records and activities from a school year when analyzing and responding to the census question similar to previous years descendants the census will ask respondents but a variety of questions pertaining to SFA’s engagement in farm discord tivities so we can continue to track progress and challenges related to sourcing and serving local food and districts across the country the census wise that surveys definition of local the amount of money spent and local purchases the most common products per typically and where you are sourcing local products from it will also ask all benefits and challenges associated with participating farmers for activities it will collect data about the number and use of edible school gardens at your school districts and we’ll track the number of school gardens and salad bars within a school district to the census also ask questions about whether local food has been served in other school-based programs and child nutrition programs such as a school breakfast program CACFP program, the summer meal program or USDA DODfresh program so Jenna can you share with our audience some common errors or misunderstandings that we’ve seen in Prior census of course rather I just want to point out that while the census questions are relatively straightforward we still see few common errors or misunderstandings first one main error happens when counting school gardens so make sure to reach out to partners across your schools maybe science classes grab a programs who may have a garden even if the food is not being served in the cafeteria garden based activities can provide agriculture and nutrition based education which can tie into and support the efforts being made in your cafeterias to serve fresh healthy food to program participants second since individual schools may have different policies related to local procurement especially if they manage their own meal programs and may be challenging to come up with one definition for your entire SFA we recommend that when completing the census try to choose a response that is comprehensive and inclusive of all the different policies or definition use at your schools or in your programs if there are multiple definitions that you use to define local feel free is plus the other category and described practice the more specific you can be the better our data will be accurate responses allow us to improve the current instrument in future years it’s also ok if you don’t have a strict polity with policy related to your school’s definition of local if you don’t have one there is always the option to say you don’t know you can also ask your distributor what their definition is if you just buy local items for example from our pre-populated list also maybe you advertise local on menus but it is flexible and really depends just use this information to guide your response to the best of your ability lastly as you look to before even if you don’t participate in a set Farm to School program your schools may be participating and smaller permissible activities you may be serving local milk and not even knowing it this is why filling out the census can be so important even if you don’t think that your school by participating in Farm to School Activities after reaching out to partners teachers at individual schools you may find out that your a survey actually does participate in Farm to School Activities after filling out the census you may realize you have school gardens serve local milk and you were already on your way to building a Farm to School program and didn’t even know it even if your school does not participate any ground before activities at all please consider still filling out the census regardless to create an opportunity for you to track your growth in those activities especially if you urge your partners implemented a program are planning to do though do so to capture the status on the activity to the greatest extent possible it is critically important that we know how many schools are engaged in some form of farm to school activity we also need to know to what extent schools are not engaged in activities all schools even though it’s have opted not to do farm to school activities are encouraged to complete a farm to school census while the census is similar to past years some dates have been made in particular and this year all of surveys including those who do not think they participate in Farm to School need to complete a few key sections of the census so Jenna why is it so important for SFA’s to be completing their Farm to School census how does this help the primary school sense is critical in telling your story to parents farmers local stakeholders it really shows all the great work you’ve done it also creates your own baseline to move forward from if you plan on engaging and growing your fan base go activities in the future the census truly is a great way to track or measure progress or test some of your own thoughts on the direction your programs are going as well as demonstrates the impact of your effort another common use of the census data is when developing a request for grants or other forms of funding support it can show how your SFA is doing compared to other SFA’s or compared to a baseline that was established during a prior census three-two-one Farm to School census slide 10 the farm old census collect a lot of information and a reasonable question is how is that data used by state or at a national level the data you provide can have a large impact Farm to School census slide 10 take to the Farm to School census collect a lot of information and a reasonable question is how was that data use at a state or national level the data you provide can have a large impact on national or statewide efforts which is why it’s so important to fill it out with a few errors as possible we’re all be speaking Farm to School census information helps inform five general activities first data can be used to show the impact of a prior policy or to articulate the need to invest in state-level policy the program the data can also be used by nonprofit and community partners who are hoping to advance Farm to School efforts or meet state-level original goals for example the census identifies certain distribution based challenges or barriers relate to farm to score activities the census data can be used as a driver to develop relevant programs that can help eliminate or reduce those barriers similarly the census data is used to inform academic research and also by USDA researchers to create programs and share information to the public again the census data can be also aggregated to provide descriptive data for entities applying to grant funding or those who are looking to have just a broader impact lastly the census data can be used to educate the broader public about the scope affirmed to school and communities nationwide to see results in Prior under school service efforts visit farm at school census at FNS at USDA dot-gov as you can see from this example in this slide you can use census data traffic dollars spent on local food by US schools you can use the information tell a story about the impact of your efforts you can also use this data to compare your efforts to trends in your state or across the country all census data is made available online in a downloadable format you can create your own charts and graphs and mark your own progress or compare your efforts to other SFA’s or States Robert let’s get into the details now what are the next steps for the data collection and what can as a faith and community partners expect next thanks Jenna we are now in the very early stages of the data collection process for the Farm to School census shortly after Labor Day some SFA’s will begin receiving emails from apt associates with information on how to begin completing their customized survey form Abt Associates has been working closely with the Office of Community Food Systems to develop resources and tools to collect this year’s census they will be reaching out to SFA’s individually to conduct this research the data collection period will go from September through December of 2019 throughout the data collection period Abt Associates will be in regular contact with school food authorities with additional details regarding the census survey process we do realize that it is the beginning of the school year and you are very busy but we hope that you will take the time to complete this survey as quickly as possible we anticipate sharing results of the 2019 Farm to School census online in the summer of 2020 in 2021 OCFS intends to share a report that will summarize data and changes over the course of three Farm to School census collections the next Farm to School census will not be for a few more years so you will have plenty of time to review the data and start setting new goals for how you can advance your efforts Farm to School census so how will the survey work and how can you be best prepared when the survey begins SFA’s will each get their own custom invitation to login to an online Farm to School census survey even though the Farm to School census will be open for a few months we strongly encourage all of you to complete your census as quickly as possible throughout the data collection period SFA’s who have not yet completed their Farm to School census will routinely receive emails from apt associates reminding them how to log in and how to complete their unique survey remember the survey will be sent to a representative of all SFAs but if you have not received your own custom email and believe that you are the respondent of record please reach out to apt associates to find out who was sent the email and how to retrieve a new link we do plan to report the results of the 2019 Farm to School census online on our dedicated Farm to School census website we currently expect this information to be available online in the summer of 2020 a comprehensive report will also be shared in 2021 and we will continue to update the website as more materials are available this Web site will feature both key summaries of the Farm to School census data as well as all three farm to schools data sets in Microsoft Excel format please note that we will not be sharing any individual identifiable data of Farm to School census respondents themselves however the website will break out all Farm to School census responses by school Food Authority level if you run into problems during the data collection period please remember the following you can contact the Farm to School census toll-free hotline at eight five five four five two five seven nine four the hotline will be manned with operators during normal business hours Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time you can also email your issues to the email inbox at Farm to School all one word at apt esos so ABT Assoc dot com the email is here on the on this slide but we will also make sure that our respondent resources page on the OCFS webpage will have this information for your use if you need to refer to it in the future so how can you best prepare yourself for a smooth census experience we recommend doing the following things to make sure that you can easily provide the most accurate reflection of your SFA as possible first ad farm to school at apt survey comm – the allowable email addresses in your email settings this will be the best way to prevent important Farm to School census updates from becoming caught in your spam filters complete the Farm to School census preparation worksheet seen here in this slide this will allow you to collect some of the critical information you need to complete your survey ahead of time also reach out to partners involved in your schools to follow up unrelated Farm to School Activities this may include school gardens or relevant educational initiatives that may not have been captured in the information you already have on file finally as we mentioned earlier do try to complete your survey as soon as possible and finally where can you get more info regarding the Farm to School census more information is available on the census and farm to school in general on the OCFS website WWW dot FNS dot USDA gov forward slash Farm to School we also encourage you to reach out to USDA Farm to School leads such as Jenna you can cut you can identify your Farm to School regional lead also on our website WWW dot FNS dot USDA gov forward slash farm to school forward slash USDA Farm to School staff a link is provided here in this slide lastly we just want to emphasize that our goal is to have the census completed with a response rate that is representative of school feeding programs nation life to accomplish this we need a survey is completing the Farm to School census with usable complete and accurate data please help us achieve this goal

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