Advancing Farm to Cafeteria: Regional Farm to Cafeteria workshops planned to strengthen relationships between growers and institutional buyers

Apples, cucumbers, and tomatoes are the top three most popular Minnesota fruits and 
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vegetables among K-12 students, according to an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy survey of school food service leaders. Getting these locally grown foods on the menus of schools and other institutions such as hospitals and childcare centers requires cross-sector partnerships, community support and relationship building. The Northwest Region Workshop  is one of eight Farm to Cafeteria workshops taking place across the state between February and April. 

The Northwest Regional Farm to Cafeteria Workshop will be held at the White Earth Tribal College in Mahnomen on Monday, February 4, 2013, from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

The workshops are designed to meet the needs of the region and strengthen connections to advance partnerships between local farmers and community institutions. Farm to Cafeteria builds strong communities, healthy people and resilient local farms, creating a "win-win" for all parties. This year's gatherings build on an earlier round of Farm to Cafeteria workshops. In 2010, more than 600 Minnesotans attended eight regional workshops that were aimed to inspire, inform and build support for local food to local institutions.

The workshop in Mahnomen will include peer-learning though presentations of practical experience and innovation in the region; panel discussion about making farm to cafeteria work for the farmers and the cafeterias; presentation on contracts and agreements between farmers and cafeterias; and tools and resources for strengthening community food systems.  We'll enjoy a supper meal and generous time for networking.  

"When schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs nd economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities," said USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "Evidence also suggests that when kids understand more about
where food comes from and how it's produced, they are more likely to make healthy eating
choices."

The 2013 workshops are coordinated by University of Minnesota Extension in partnership with
the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Statewide Health Improvement Program and Renewing the Countryside, and funded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

For more information and to register, visit www.extension.umn.edu/go/1132. Contact Linda Kingery at kinge002@umn.edu or 218-281-8697 for more information on the Northwest Regional Farm to Cafeteria Workshop. 

For information on Minnesota Farm to School, visit www.extension.umn.edu/farm-to-school.

Contact: Linda Kingery, executive director, U of M Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, 218-281-8697 (kinge002@umn.edu)

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