NEWS

MADISON, WI – An innovative partnership of public and nonprofit partners is addressing food insecurity for children and families in Madison again this summer. REAP Food Group, Madison Metropolitan School District, the City of Madison, Public Health Madison & Dane County and community partners are coming together to improve and expand the Summer Food Program. This program provides free summer meals to all children 18 and under at nearly three dozen sites city wide. "The Summer Food Program is a critical strategy to bridge the gap for kids who may struggle to find a meal while school is out,” said Matthew Fornoff, REAP Farm to School and Community Director. “Even more, with support from the city and other partners, this innovative approach to serving at open park sites gives us the chance to connect with our community, to engage, educate, and learn from them so we can better serve Madison neighborhoods that face food and health inequities.” The Summer Food Program begins Monday, June 24 with a special kickoff event from 11:30-1 pm at Leopold Park. Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, along with alder Sheri Carter, REAP Executive Director Helen Sarakinos, Leopold Elementary principal Peg Keeler, and MMSD’s Food and Nutrition Director Steve Youngbauer will address the community and press at 11:30 a.m. MMSD and REAP Food Group will provide free lunch and Farm to School activities, and Elmore Lawson will perform live music for this free public event. Several community partners will host special activities at the kickoff as well. Dane County Library will send the Bookmobile to Leopold Park (bring your library cards!), Madison Water Utility will haul out the Water Wagon, and the city clerk will host a mock election. The Madison Public Library and Fitchburg Library will also be at the even with activities. Other appearances will be made by the Madison Parks Department, Fitchburg K9 Unit, Fitchburg Fire Department, and UNIDOS. The partners aim to serve more children by increasing public awareness of and improving access to the free meals for both children and families. REAP Food Group will hand out free summer lunches to all children and their accompanying adults at Leopold Park and Southdale Park every Monday through Friday, June 24 through Aug. 16 (except July 4 and 5), from 12-1 pm. REAP’s Farm to School Program will also provide fun, educational activities daily. In addition to the Leopold and Southdale sites, there are dozens of other locations in the Madison area, including schools, community centers, apartments and more, that will serve free breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks this summer. No registration or identification is required to receive meals; all youth 18 and under eat for free. To find sites and meal times, visit mmsd.org/food or text “food” or “comida” to 877-877. Along with REAP Farm to School educational lunchtime activities at Leopold and Southdale parks, all MMSD Summer Food Program sites will feature locally grown, farm-fresh vegetables, coordinated by REAP Food Group and MMSD Food and Nutrition Department. For two decades, REAP Food Group has been working throughout Southern Wisconsin to build...

Are you looking for opportunities to gain hands-on experience in local food?  REAP Food Group seeks to fill six part-time produce processing positions at Madison College starting in early July and continuing until late November. This is a great opportunity to work on-campus with a reputable non-profit in mission-driven work. The majority of the work will be washing, chopping and bagging local produce for schools, hospitals and the public. This role would provide professional opportunities in culinary skills, food-safety protocols, local-food systems and non-profit work. Location: Madison College Truax Campus, 1701 Wright Street, Madison, WI Compensation: $12/hour Duties include: -Following protocol and maintaining records for all incoming and outgoing product -Tracking and updating inventory data in Google Sheets -Maintaining a sanitary work environment for food processing -Sanitizing, chopping, bagging and labeling raw produce -Pre and post clean-up and sanitation of kitchenware and equipment -Maintaining a kind, friendly and professional attitude Please submit resume, credentials, and/or letter of interest to Farm to Business Director Brianna Fiene at briannaf@reapgroup.org by June 15. Hiring and training will begin the following week. For more information on REAP Food Group, visit reapfoodgroup.org....

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- As the school year is ending, many kids who depend on free or reduced price meals at school might soon be without a meal. The Madison Metropolitan School District is trying to fill that gap with their Summer Food Program. Starting Monday, June 24, kids can eat up to two meals for free at 32 sites around Madison. The sites are open Monday through Friday, serving breakfast, lunch and snack. READ MORE...

Do you have a passion for good food, nutrition, and working with youth? REAP Food Group is seeking candidates to fill four (4) half-time Americorps Farm to School (F2S) Specialist positions. This is a one-year appointment with a 900-hour commitment (average 20 hours/wk).   The AmeriCorps Farm to School program serves communities across the state of Wisconsin. In Madison, REAP Food Group is the host site for Americorps members working with the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) on Farm to School program implementation. F2S Specialists will work with elementary, middle-, and high-school students to build knowledge and skills around local food systems and healthy eating behaviors. In addition, F2S Specialists will engage with teachers, farmers, food service personnel, parents, and a wide range of community partners to build support and awareness of local food and Farm to School efforts in the community.   Position Duties Create and deliver F2S, healthy food, school garden, and nutrition lessons to elementary students in Madison schools Help promote local foods and farms through organizing farmer visits, lunchroom activities, field trips to farms, and communications to school staff and families Support REAP F2S staff with education MMSD Food and Nutrition Services staff about local foods and how the school district can plan to purchase more locally produced foods Assist with coordination of the F2S Snack Program in Madison schools including assisting with preparation and processing of fruits and vegetables for snacks Pilot F2S lessons in MMSD middle and high schools, and assist with cooking classes in middle and high schools. Recruit and mobilize volunteers to participate in Farm to School activities, including developing a F2S Task Force within a school or neighborhood. Develop strategies and build community to make the REAP F2S program sustainable; collect and track program performance; attend professional development opportunities   Member Benefits $7,400 Living Allowance $3,047 Education Award (upon successful completion) Student loan deferment Ongoing professional development opportunities   Application deadline July 1, 2019 Positions begin August 15, 2019   For full job description, please visit reapfoodgroup.org For questions, please contact Haley Traun, REAP F2S Education Coordinator at haleyt-americorps@reapfoodgroup.org Click this link to apply online...

From left: Madison East High School occupational therapy team Lisa Jacobson, Kelley Hutchison-Maravilla, and Seth Jawitz-McClellan stand inside the newly renovated East High School greenhouse. Photo by Alyssa Beno. Madison, WI - Students in special education classes at Madison East High School will soon have the opportunity to learn and implement sustainable urban gardening projects with the recent renovation of the school greenhouse. The renovation was done in partnership with REAP Food Group, a Madison-based nonprofit that brings local, sustainably produced food and hands-on agriculture and nutrition education to local schools. Garden-based education is shown to improve students’ knowledge of, and consumption of, fruits and vegetables. “The wealth of research on the benefits of garden education for improving student academic and vocational skills development, as well as physical, social and emotional health outcomes continues to grow,” said REAP’s Farm to School Education Coordinator Haley Traun. “REAP is excited to provide support on an innovative project for deserving students, as well as to engage the larger school community and general public on the advantages of experiential education initiatives designed to reach all students." More than 250 students in special education classes will have access to the greenhouse, where they will learn about and grow vegetables, herbs and flowers alongside REAP’s AmeriCorps Nutrition Educators and local farmers. The project aims to teach students hands-on gardening and business development skills and engage the broader school community through greenhouse and sustainable agriculture activities. “We want it to be a very used, inclusive space, year-round, looking at horticulture but also as a place for mindfulness,” said MMSD occupational therapist Kelley Hutchison-Maravilla. Included in the garden program is hands-on, direct marketing experience as students plan to sell extra plant starts at an end-of-school-year plant sale. The culinary arts program will also use the vegetables and herbs grown in the greenhouse in cooking classes. “One of REAP’s biggest successes was the culinary art program here getting off the ground, getting the AmeriCorps in and then getting the teacher onboard,” said MMSD occupational therapist Lisa Jacobson. “It now runs itself. It’s just a regular component of what happens here at the school so recruiting the right staff members at East to work in conjunction with REAP so this greenhouse can grow food and provide space for kids independent of a single staff member is my goal.” Vegetables and herbs have already been planted in the greenhouse, with lessons planned for May. The project was made possible with funding from North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) and the Rotary Club of Madison. “The ability to come in here and see the life transform from seeds and soil into the actual finished product, [the students] always seem to love it,” said MMSD occupational therapist Seth Jawitz-McClellan....

MADISON MAGAZINE - Go beyond farmers’ markets to support local farmers through the Farm Fresh Atlas of Southern Wisconsin, organized by Madison-based REAP Food Group. The Farm Fresh Atlas launched in 2002 as a trifold pamphlet providing information about farms and businesses that support local food. The latest edition consists of 48 pages covering southern Wisconsin. The online website covers the entire state. READ MORE...

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...

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...