National Farm to Cafeteria Conference Unites Diverse Stakeholders Around Community Health, Sustainable Agriculture

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With as many as 40 million Americans eating in institutional cafeterias every day, schools, preschools, hospitals and prisons can have a huge impact on obesity rates and food system reform.

National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Institutional cafeterias possess the capacity to have a huge impact on a community's health.

Registration opened this week for the 7th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, a biennial event that convenes a broad spectrum of stakeholders including educators, food service professionals, farmers, nonprofit leaders and advocates, and hospital and prison administrators. The main themes of the conference are sourcing healthy, local foods for cafeterias and building resilient food systems, which each have a large part to play in supporting healthy communities according Mary Stein, associate director for the conference host, the National Farm to School Network.

“Cafeterias in schools, universities, prisons, hospitals and childcare centers serve more than 40 million Americans every day during the school year, placing the farm to cafeteria movement at the forefront of the fight to end obesity and strengthen local food systems,” Stein said. “Think of it this way: A single school district often feeds more people in a day than all of a city’s restaurants combined. Institutional cafeterias possess the capacity to have a huge impact on a community's health.”

The conference will be held April 15 – 18 in Austin, Texas, and will include more than 40 workshops as well as networking events and plenaries. Short courses and field trips to innovative farm to cafeteria sites will be offered on April 15.

Alice Waters—chef, author, proprietor of Chez Panisse and creator of The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, Calif.—will deliver a keynote address. Other confirmed plenary speakers include Anim Steel, Jim Hightower, Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and Toni Tipton-Martin.

The National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is the premier national gathering of stakeholders from across the farm to cafeteria movement. More than 1,000 attendees are expected.

The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) was launched by a collaborative of more than 30 organizations seeking to shape the burgeoning farm to school movement, which has grown from a handful of schools in the late 1990s to approximately 38,000 schools in all 50 states today. NFSN provides vision, leadership, and support at the state, regional and national levels to connect and strengthen the farm to school movement.

More information about the conference can be found at Registration is open through April 1.

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Chelsey Simpson
since: 03/2009
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