Obion County Students Get a Taste of Local

Last week, seven Obion County Schools participated in a district-wide local food taste test through the District’s USDA funded Farm to School Planning Project. Local beef was provided by Giffin Farms and processed by Yoder’s Meat Processor. Chastity Homra, Obion County Schools Coordinated School Health Director, helped facilitate the taste tests with Michelle Bruner’s Culinary Arts Class and Stewart Watson’s FFA students. Obion County Farm to School Team Members, Judy Denman, School Nutrition Director, and Linda Carney, School Finance Director, provided materials and logistical support.

Survey says….out of 2,045 students, 93% (1,905) students liked the Giffin Farms Local Beef Taste Test
Obion County Culinary Students named their Giffin Farms Taste Test Beef “Chuck” and measured results by collecting empty sample containers in marked boxes.

“A total of 30 students served 2,045 Obion County School District students at seven schools,” said Chastity Homra. “Culinary Arts students prepared the food, and FFA students served the taste tests in schools. Through Coordinated School Health, I like to encourage students to have a voice because they feel more empowered and want to engage more with new experiences. 93% of students liked Giffin Farms local beef samples.”

Taste tests provide numerous benefits to students by giving them the opportunity to try a variety of foods, introducing them to foods that are locally grown and in season, facilitate a change in food choices (thus allowing new and local foods that are accepted by students to be integrated into school meals), creates positive food environments, and is a fun and memorable experience.

(Left to Right) Genesis Wilson, Hanna Strauser, Gracie Norsworthy, Obion County Central High School FFA students, served Giffin Farms beef taste test samples that were prepared by Obion Culinary Arts Students.

Students are often reluctant to try new foods. Taste tests introduce new menu items in a way that raises awareness about healthy food choices, involves the school community, local farmers and builds a culture of trying new foods.

The day after the Obion County Central High School taste test, the Culinary Students had a tray of prepared leftover beef. The school cafeteria manager used it in the school’s lunch serving of chile. “One of the high school students, who had not liked the local beef taste test the day prior, had commented the following day about how the school’s chile was really tasty,” commented Ms. Homra, “but what he hadn’t realized is the same local beef he tried the day before was also used in the school cafeteria’s chile the following day.”

Derek Giffin, and wife, Micayla with new baby son, are the owners of Giffin Farms out of Obion County. Derek is a 2011 South Fulton High School Graduate, and 5th generation farmer who manages his family’s commodity crop farm and cattle raising operation through the use of cover crops and regenerative agricultural practices. Meet Derek Giffin – watch a 6-minute video here:

“No school in Northwest Tennessee has ever sourced an entire beef cattle before from a local farmer, so the Obion County Farm to School Planning team wanted to see how much one entire beef cattle could feed a school district, and were we surprised – it’s the beef that keeps on feeding students!” stated Samantha Goyret, Northwest Tennessee Farm to School Coordinator, Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network.

Chastity Homra, Coordinated School Health Director – OCSD, and Caroline Ideus, Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network Farm to School Coordinator picked up the ground beef processed at Yoders Meat Processor in Henry County, TN.

With the additional frozen beef, Chastity plans on hosting a Culinary Arts recipe contest with the Obion County Central High School Students who will win a gift certificate and get their Giffin Farms Local Beef Recipe published in the upcoming 2022 Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide Magazine. Additional beef is being reserved to make Giffin Farms Beef Burgers to celebrate Obion County FFA students’ recent achievements. Extra chubs of beef will also be divided to the school cafeterias for use in chile lunches this fall.

Learn more HERE.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is partnering with the Obion County Farm to School District and Farm to School Team. By working with area farmers, parents, students, school administration, and the Local Food Network, the Obion County Farm to School Team is 1) Building support by formally convening a team of Farm to School advocates for each school district; 2) Identifying and assessing school district stakeholders by completing online assessments to identify strengths, needs, and areas for improvement; and 3) Developing an Obion County Farm to School Action Plan.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL. Learn more about how you can get involved at nwtnlfn.org/programs/farm-to-school.

These projects have been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or Organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

~Co-Written by Samantha Goyret and Lauren Kimball
Published in the Union City Daily Messenger
Tuesday, November 16, 2021

5 Easy Ways to Support the LFN

Our end-of-year goal is to raise $1,000 for Growing Food Initiatives in Northwest Tennessee to support the #GrowFoodChallenge and Farm to School programming.

We are a small 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a growing impact.

Our programming in 2021 reached over 17,000 children in our region.

With your support, we can create an even greater impact together to grow healthier children and communities.

5 easy ways to help the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network reach our year-end goal: $1,000

  1. Donate to #Seed Money Campaign for the #GrowFoodChallenge  (November 15-December 15, 2021) – goal is $600
  2. Add us as your preferred organization for online purchases through the Amazon Smile program
  3. Donate online through PAYPAL HERE.
  4. Spread the word about us on social media – create a facebook birthday campaign!
  5. Mail a check to: Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network, 113 Elm Street, Martin, TN 38237

The Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and relies on donations, sponsors and grant funds to keep us growing in the region. Your gift is tax deductible.

The LFN’s goal is to continue the growth and expansion of its programming and reach within the region while offering employment opportunities to its dedicated staff and interns. Presently the LFN is managed by a dedicated group of two staff, 8 Board members, and dedicated volunteers.

We’re Hiring! Media Design Intern

Intern Job Description

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network Media Design Intern will work closely with the NWTN LFN staff to develop consistent content on the LFN facebook page, website, and design marketing materials. The Media Assistant internship is currently a paid position. The required length of this internship is expected to serve in this capacity for at least one full semester, up to 135 hours total for a paid internship stipend of $425.

Purpose of Internship

This position will foster a deeper understanding of how local food systems work, hone the following skillsets: documentation and interviewing skills, writing, graphic design, website management, and social media management.

The Media Design intern will report to the Executive Director while supporting the following programs and initiatives within the following areas:

  • #Grow Food Challenge: Design poster, website button and social media marketing materials
  • Farm to School Logo: Design a logo for the Obion County Central High School Hydroponic Lettuce clam shell
  • Harvest of the Month: Design engaging posters using student made artwork for the Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month Program
  • Nourishing Connection: design 2022 Parent newsletters
  • Social Media: Create a social media calendar of posts and schedule drafts on the @NWTNLFN facebook page, create #LocalFoodFactFriday graphic images for Friday social media posts.
  • Website Management: manage the website’s contents (nwtnlfn.org) and keep updated
  • General program support: responsibilities may include administrative tasks, data collection, assisting with general organizational operations, and attending Local Food Network meetings.

Qualifications of Applicant:

  • Remote capable – have access to the internet from your place of residence (LFN laptop available for use if needed)
  • Self-Motivated, Detail oriented, organized, dependable
  • Experience with video programming software
  • Effective written and oral communication skills
  • Proficiency in using Microsoft Programs, Graphic Design programs, Google Drive, and WordPress
  • Interest in and dedication to promoting local food and agriculture

Please send a cover letter and resume via email, or snail mail by Friday, December 31, 2022. Interviews first week of January. Position begins 1/10/2022.

Qualifications of Applicant:

  • Remote capable – have access to the internet from your place of residence (LFN laptop available for use if needed)
  • Self-Motivated, Detail oriented, organized, dependable
  • Experience with video programming software
  • Effective written and oral communication skills
  • Proficiency in using Microsoft Programs, Google Drive, Graphic Design a Plus
  • Interest in and dedication to promoting local food and agriculture

Please send a cover letter and resume via email, or snail mail.

Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network

113 Elm Street, Martin, TN 38237

Email: Executive Director, Samantha Goyret => nwtnfoodguide (at) gmail.com

Call 731-281-4770 with questions.

Understanding Food Equity – Resources and Ideas

From production to disposal, our food system affects nearly all aspects of everyday life. How is our current food system affecting the health and economic vitality of communities and what does food equity have to do with it all?

With over 100 participants, the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network hosted a virtual Meet-uP via ZOOM on Wednesday, November 3, 2021 with Kimberly Pettigrew, Director of Food Security Systems from United Way of Greater Knoxville.

Source: Why is Racial Equity Required to Achieve Food Access

Kimberly comes to this discussion with more than a decade of food system experience, most recently serving as the Local Food Initiative Coordinator at Nourish Knoxville, the Knoxville-Knox County Food Policy Chair, and the Chair of the KEMA Food Access Committee during the COVID-19 Pandemic. With her new position as the Director of Food Security Systems at the United Way of Greater Knoxville, Kimberly is working with the broad community, nonprofits, businesses, and government leadership to create a strategic food plan to realize a state-wide vision in building a more just and equitable food system while providing mentorship and support for up-and-coming food system leaders and organizations. By listening to people from all sides of the spectrum, she has begun to learn first-hand what it takes to overhaul our food system in a way that utilizes radical hospitality, human energy, and cross-sector collaboration to create dignity for those who participate in it.

(ZOOM LINK) Watch “Understanding Food Equity” Virtual Meet-Up

Kimberly Pettigrew’s Presentation Slides

Image Source: United Way of Greater Knoxville
Download Kimberly Pettigrew’s Power Point Presentation: Building Equitable Food Systems

Key Words

Food Equity – Food equity is the belief that people should have equal access to and the ability to grow and consume healthy, affordable, and culturally-significant foods. In a food-equitable system, community members could grow, barter, purchase, or sell their food knowing exactly where their food came from and how it was grown. Food equity is achieved when communities — especially underserved groups — have fair access to these types of food retailers and community gardens producing food via sustainable practices and supporting local farmers with reasonable wages and accommodations. (source: https://www.randomacts.org/kindness-stories/understanding-food-equity-and-global-hunger-terminology/)

Food Apartheid – “…instead of “food desert” [it] is “food apartheid,” because “food apartheid” looks at the whole food system, along with race, geography, faith, and economics. You say “food apartheid” and you get to the root cause of some of the problems around the food system. It brings in hunger and poverty. It brings us to the more important question: What are some of the social inequalities that you see, and what are you doing to erase some of the injustices?” – interview with Karen Washington

Equitable Food System – An equitable food system is one that creates a new paradigm in which all — including those most vulnerable and those living in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color — can fully participate, prosper, and benefit. It is a system that, from farm to table, from processing to disposal, ensures economic opportunity; high-quality jobs with living wages; safe working conditions; access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food; and environmental sustainability. (source: https://www.policylink.org/food-systems/equitable-food-systems-resource-guide)

Redlining – The term “redlining” was coined by sociologist John McKnight in the 1960s and derives from how the federal government and lenders would literally draw a red line on a map around the neighborhoods they would not invest in based on demographics alone. Black inner-city neighborhoods were most likely to be redlined. Investigations found that lenders would make loans to lower-income Whites but not to middle- or upper-income African Americans.2 Unable to get regular mortgages, Black residents who wanted to own a house often were forced to resort to exploitatively priced housing contracts that massively increased the cost of housing and gave them no equity until their last payment was delivered. (source: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/redlining.asp)

Experience Experts – Experience Experts have personal experience with food insecurity, lack of affordable and accessible housing, housing instability, and/or programs such as SNAP, tax credits, or other federal “safety net” assistance that help millions of Americans make ends meet.

Food Equity Solutions Discussed

Start with “Experience Experts”. Make sure to compensate the experts’ time and knowledge.

Build human energy to gain support and trust.

Consider social determinants of health in your planning.

Start with assets, not barriers, for system-wide planning.

Start small with specialty interest groups such as (but not limited to), local food advocates, the city government, extension, SNAP offices, churches, school nutrition, interested residents and civic groups.

Data Resources Shared

http://www.justicemap.org/ – Visualize race and income for your community and country.

https://www.policymap.com – Identify the challenges facing your community and strategically target interventions. These maps, data, and insights can help.

uwtn.org/106.5/aliceALICE stands for Asset Limited,  Income  Constrained,  Employed. It is a comprehensive measurement of financial hardship across Tennessee.

The Retiree’s Guide resource to promoting Meals on Wheels

Food, Justice, and Equity Resources

University of North Carolina Asheville

Community Food Resources

https://growappalachia.berea.edu

https://www.farmtoschool.org/

https://lvpc.org/datalv.html#equity

https://cals.cornell.edu/cornell-agritech/partners-institutes/cornell-food-venture-center

https://www.acfchefs.org/

https://www.douglascountyks.org/culinarycommons/use-kitchen

https://therealgoodkitchen.com/

https://www.cookalliance.org/frequently-asked-questions

https://mehkomikey.com/

https://www.unicoitn.net/mhk-incubator

Funding Resources

https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/local-foods-local-places

https://nifa.usda.gov/program/small-business-innovation-research-program-sbir