June 17, 2016
The 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference was held in Madison, Wisconsin from June 2 - 4 and attracted over 1,000 food service professionals, farmers, educators, policy makers, entrepreneurs, students, representatives from nonprofits and government agencies, public health professionals, and many others. Highlights included a regional networking session, where neighboring states met to build relationships, share ideas and resources, and fuel the farm to cafeteria initiatives in their regions. Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation is the Hawaiʻi State Lead for the National Farm to School Network and member of the Western Region states. KHF participated in the Poster Session sharing the Fresh Choice Hawaiian Harvest Toolkit along with 45 other posters highlighting exciting projects, innovations, research and trends in the farm to cafeteria movement nationwide.
A conference field trip day offered opportunities for exploring the Madison area food system and farm to institution landscape. From aquaponics to urban farms and hospitals to college campuses, more than 370 pre-conference attendees experienced Wisconsin’s farm to cafeteria initiatives first hand through 10 local field trips. KHF staff visited, local youth and community run gardens and local businesses to support nutritious and local food systems, REAP a healthy school snack program that serves 5,500 Madison students a locally-grown fresh fruit or veggie snack every Thursday, and the non-profit urban farm Growing Power, that includes gardens, livestock and compost, vermicomposting, growing microgreens, mushrooms and aquaponics. Participants learned from Will Allen, the inspiring founder of Growing Power and leader in urban agriculture in the U.S. and world, about the partnerships that Growing Power has built with local businesses to grow and process produce and provide equal access to healthy, high quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities.
Hawaiʻi was well represented at the conference by Robyn Phal, Department of Agriculture Farm to School Coordinator, Harmonee Williams of SustAINAble Molokaʻi, Tiana Kamen, Farm to Keiki, KHF Executive Director Natalie McKinney, ‘AINA In Schools Program Manager, Kelly Perry, KHF Educational Resource Specialist, Summer Maunakea, and FoodCorps Service member, Stephanie Loui.
Check out Key Takeaways from this Year's National Farm to Cafeteria Conference written by our FoodCorps Service Member Stephanie Loui at our Blog.