PORTLAND, Ore. – Ecotrust Food & Farms Program has been selected to serve as the Regional Lead Agency (RLA) for the National Farm to School Network. As RLA, Ecotrust is charged with overseeing efforts to change the face of school food to reflect local foodsheds and promote health in the Western United States. Ecotrust was chosen from a field of non-profit organizations based on its proven track record in developing and implementing programs in the farm to school arena, as well as its successful history of collaborating with organizations and individuals on a local and national level.
As the Regional Lead Agency, Ecotrust will serve as a hub for farm to school activities in the Western region, which encompasses Hawaii, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. In addition, it will support the National Network in areas of policy, information, media and marketing, and create networking opportunities as well as provide training and technical assistance for individuals working on farm to school issues.
“We are honored that the National Farm to School Network chose Ecotrust to coordinate and cross fertilize the farm to school movement in our region,” says Deborah Kane, vice president of Ecotrust Food & Farms Program. “I’m confidant the formation of a regional network will strengthen individual efforts as we all learn from each other.”
The National Farm to School Network seeks to build community-based food systems, strengthen family farms and improve student health by reducing childhood obesity. Working in conjunction with the Center for Food and Justice at Occidental College and the Community Food Security Coalition, the network plans to create a viable and sustainable network to coordinate, promote and expand the farm to school movement at the state, regional and national levels. The development of regional lead agencies helps further the implementation of the farm to school movement across the country.
Ecotrust’s new Food to School Manager Michelle Ratcliffe, Ph.D., steps into the role of Regional Coordinator, fulfilling a requirement of the RLA designation. Ratcliffe will work closely with National Farm to School Network coordinators from partner organizations, regional network members, and RLAs from around the country to monitor progress of projects in the region, provide inputs for project evaluation and reporting, and set goals for working toward self-sustainability of regional farm to school efforts.
About Ecotrust’s Food & Farms Program www.ecotrust.org
Since 2001, Ecotrust’s Food & Farms Program has been investing in building direct market connections between farmers, ranchers, and fishermen and restaurant chefs, grocery retail buyers, institutions and distributors. One of five major program areas of the Portland, Ore.-based nonprofit Ecotrust, the Food & Farms Program is building a vision for a sustainable food system.