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Gov. Tony Evers' 2019-21 proposed biennial budget includes funding that will improve student wellness, increase institutional markets for farmers, and strengthen a resilient local food system through investment in Farm to School and Wisconsin farms. Wisconsin Farm to School, administered through the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), connects Wisconsin schools and institutions with Wisconsin-produced foods. Farm to school programming helps children develop healthy eating habits through nutrition and agricultural education, and creates reliable markets for Wisconsin farms and producers. The governor's proposed budget includes funding to: Invest $200,000 annually in a Farm to School Grant program to increase the amount of fresh, Wisconsin-grown food that is served to children in schools; Create staff capacity to provide technical assistance to farmers and schools; Reimburse schools for school breakfast and milk programs which increases their capacity to buy Wisconsin-grown food. Provides an additional $100,000 each year to the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin (BLBW) grant program to support efforts to increase the sale of Wisconsin-grown or produced food products.   As Wisconsin's elected officials decide on the upcoming budget, it's important that they hear from their voters who care about sustainable farming and access to good food for all. What You Can Do By April 24, email or call your legislator, especially if they are on the Joint Finance Committee.  Tell them you support funding to improve children's wellness and to lift up family farms in Wisconsin. Tell them why it matters to you, make it personal. To find your legislator, visit  legis.wisconsin.gov and type in your address under "Find My Legislator." Share a Farm to School story at one of the upcoming public hearings hosted by the Joint Committee on Finance. The final budget hearing is on Wednesday, April 24 in Green Bay (from 10am until 5pm) at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, University Union - Phoenix Rooms. Details of the budget hearings can be found here. Credits to the Wisconsin Farm to School Network for pulling together a great resource on the impacts of Farm to School on our state's students, farms and producers. To read it, click here....

Location: Madison, WI Application Deadline: April 19, 2019   Join a team that is passionate about creating a just, local and sustainable food system in Southern Wisconsin. REAP Food Group, a non-profit organization based in Madison, WI, believes that making good food, grown well accessible to all strengthens our regional economy, improves health and strengthens our community. Our Farm to School initiatives bring good food to youth in Madison and surrounding communities through supporting school food procurement, classroom and community education, and community engagement.   Internship Description: This position will work closely with REAP staff to engage youth and their families during the summer school break with hands on Farm to School activities that teach about sustainability, nutrition and agriculture. Our summer efforts are focused on children who are served by our school programming and provides the opportunity to engage more deeply in Farm to school learning with their families. As an intern, you will work within a team of REAP staff, AmeriCorps service members, and community Ambassadors. The Summer Program will be based at Centro Hispano, Southdale Park, and Leopold Park. Your role will be to develop and facilitate interactive, culturally appropriate, family-focused programming on topics related to healthy food systems, food production, food preparation, and food justice, while also engaging with community members. This is an excellent opportunity for someone interested in engaging underserved youth and families around local foods, and sustainability, and healthy eating. Because the team will be interacting extensively with Spanish-speaking community members, Spanish language skills are strongly preferred.   Responsibilities Include: Develop and provide train-the-trainer education for community members to learn to manage the community garden; develop sustainability plan for garden, in collaboration with REAP staff and community partners. Coordinate and support community-based programming including youth-led activities, cooking demonstrations, farmer presentations, and similar activities with REAP staff and community partners. Develop and facilitate interactive, culturally appropriate educational F2S programming targeted at adults and families who visit Southdale and Leopold Parks for MMSD Summer Meals. Assist with community outreach and program promotion in neighborhoods where the REAP Summer Programs are based. Support the MMSD Summer Food Service Program at Southdale and Leopold Parks as needed.   Required Qualifications: Excellent people skills Interest in promoting local, sustainable agriculture and inspiring healthy eating among youth Passion for working with children and families and interacting in a community setting Ability to work independently and manage one’s own time effectively in a flexible work setting Provide your own transportation to sites Bilingual in English and Spanish   Preferred Qualifications: Experience in education, nutrition, public health, environmental science, or agriculture Experience working with youth and adults in a community setting Experience interacting with socially, economically and/or ethnically diverse populations Experience with evaluation and/or data collection Comfortable driving the UpRoot by REAP Farm to School food truck   Hours: 16 hrs/wk for 10 weeks mid-June through mid-August 2019. We envision two full, 8-hour days during the week but with a flexible schedule depending on community programming. Occasional evenings and weekends may be required.   Stipend: This internship pays a stipend of $2,000.   Application Procedure and Deadline: Please submit the following to matthewf@reapfoodgroup.org by April...

As of January 2019, Wisconsin swears in a new governor and begins the process to develop and approve a new two-year state budget. With every new budget, the legislative Joint Finance Committee holds hearings throughout the state to hear what financial issues are on the minds of Wisconsinites. New leadership, and this budget process, present opportunities for farmers, eaters and buyers to let our elected leaders know that developing a strong food economy is good for all of us. REAP has identified some legislative and budget priorities that would strengthen efforts to grow, distribute and buy local and Wisconsin-grown food. Budget Priorities Both Wisconsin’s agricultural businesses and our children’s health benefit from programs that support local food sales and access. 1) Fully fund the Farm to School position and increase funding of Farm to School grant program in the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP): The Farm to School program spurs more than $9 million dollars in purchases of Wisconsin-grown and processed foods by Wisconsin schools each year, and for more than 500,000 students. 2) Increase funding of state Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant program: As of 2017, BLBW’s modest $1.2 million investment generated more than $8.4 million in new food sales, made more than $3.9 million in new investments, and created or retained hundreds of jobs. Demand for BLBW grants is high: DATCP turns away five projects for every one they fund. Legislative Priorities 1) Increase the state reimbursement for school lunches and expand reimbursement to school breakfasts: Currently, Wisconsin reimburses school districts enrolled in the National School Lunch Program less than a nickel per meal - a rate unchanged since the 1980s. Raising reimbursement could incentivize purchase of Wisconsin-grown food. 2) Consider a pilot effort to reward schools and school districts for buying local: A pilot effort focused on federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program or Special Milk Program can allow the state to develop the most efficient way to scale up these incentives statewide. Big Picture Create opportunities for broader food business innovation for Wisconsin farms: Use the Dairy Business Innovation Center model (matching producers with technical experts and DATCP administration) but with a broader food business innovation focus to broaden opportunities for Wisconsin family farms....

Madison is a city surrounded by sustainable family farms and grappling with food justice issues. How it chooses to link these two issues has real impacts on community, economy and health, but receives little attention. There are many ways residents can help shape actions to improve the health of our community and our environment through good food. We highlight those actions here. When the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1, 2020, REAP board member Nan Fey hopes to toast three food-focused accomplishments in the city from 2019: • The inclusion of a food hub facility at the former Oscar Mayer site in Madison • Revised policies on pesticide use on city-owned land, with an eye toward protecting pollinator populations • New, lower water use rates for community gardens located on city-owned land Fey will have a particularly good view on the progress of these goals, since she serves as chair of the Madison Food Policy Council, created in 2012 by Mayor Paul Soglin and the Madison Common Council. While the average Madison resident may not know the Madison Food Policy Council exists, it has made huge strides in its mission to develop city-level policies, programs and resources that support a sustainable local and regional food system. Last year, the council granted nearly $160,000 to help Luna’s Groceries set up shop in the Allied-Dunn Marsh neighborhood, its first full-service grocery store in a decade. The council successfully developed a process so residents can have gardens on street terraces and propose plantings on other city-owned lands that produce fruit, seeds and nuts available to the community. Its 23 members accomplish this work through smaller working groups and task forces. Last year was a big year for the council, Fey said, as it successfully advocated for including a number of food systems-related strategies into the city’s 20-year comprehensive plan. These strategies touch on everything from land use and neighborhood access to economic development and sustainability. “The strategy that will make the most difference overall is the commitment to develop a regional food system plan,” Fey said. What to Watch for In 2019 (and Beyond) The biggest “what to watch” item for 2019 in the local food system is the potential for the creation of a regional food hub in Madison. In December, the city budgeted $100,000 for a feasibility study that is expected to be completed by the middle of this year. Initial focus is on the former Oscar Mayer plant but other sites will be considered. The long-awaited Madison Public Market is scheduled to move forward, though recent changes in location have pushed back its opening to 2021. That city-owned project will create more opportunities for residents to access local food in the city and its MarketReady program offers business training, mentorship and start-up capital for emerging food entrepreneurs. MarketReady prioritizes populations facing historic barriers to entrepreneurship including women, people of color, immigrants, low income populations, veterans, displaced workers, and LGBTQ+ individuals. While the Madison Food Policy Council will follow the progress of these projects, it will have no shortage of its own work to do. This...

REAP is seeking volunteers to clean, chop and package fresh produce for our weekly Farm to School Snack Program! This program provides fresh, locally-grown fruit and veggie snacks for almost 5,000 students at MMSD elementary schools each week. This entails processing 600-1,000 pounds of produce each week. We need 3-4 reliable, fast-paced, kitchen-savvy community members with good knife skills. The REAP team processes at FEED Kitchens on Tuesday mornings starting at 8 am. Most weeks we finish in four hours, but occasionally the processing takes a bit longer. Experience working in a commercial kitchen and the ability to lift heavy crates of produce are preferred but not required. Positions are available immediately. If interested, please respond to Matthew Fornoff at matthewf@reapfoodgroup.org, and outline your interest and qualifications. Through the Snack Program and other initiatives, the REAP Farm to School Program aims to provide and educate students about locally-grown produce and create and sustain a market for local farms.  ...

When Madison students go back to school this week, they will be greeted by new teachers and familiar subjects like reading, writing and math. But thanks to REAP’s Farm to School program, many Madison students will also get to snack on locally grown produce like Concord grapes, learn how to cook a meal from a Madison chef and have the opportunity to buy (or receive for free) a school meal — green chile mac 'n' cheese with barbecue pork, anyone? — from a food truck. REAP Food Group, a nonprofit organization based in Madison, has a mission to grow the local food system in southern Wisconsin. The organization’s Farm to School program, in its 11th year, brings fresh and local food to children; establishes reliable markets for local farms using sustainable agricultural practices; and provides hands-on education in Madison classrooms. READ MORE  ...

REAP Food Group partnered with the Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative (WEC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to conduct a needs assessment and comprehensive evaluation of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and recent improvement efforts. This final report helps identify reasons the SFSP is underutilized, challenges community participants may be experiencing that contribute to low participation rates in the SFSP, and to explore the effectiveness of REAP’s communication and program strategies. The project was made possible with funding from the Wisconsin Partnership Program. READ THE FULL REPORT HERE: Evaluation of the Madison Metropolitan School District Summer Food Program and REAP Food Group Improvement Efforts...