Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

California Farm to School Conference celebrates champions building local, resilient food systems

California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom (right) joins CDFA Secretary Karen Ross at the California Farm to School Conference in a conversation about the progress, champions and future goals of the farm to school movement.

More than 300 school food leaders, farmers and educators joined California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross and the Alice Waters Institute at the 2023 California Farm to School Conference October 24-25.

Strengthened through CDFA’s Farm to School Network and California’s recent investments of $100 million in CDFA’s California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program, attendees celebrated the expansion of farm to school programs across California. Partners also networked for opportunities to collaboratively improve school food and continue to build local, resilient food systems.

“The possibilities of California Farm to School are endless – from improving children’s health and well-being to bolstering local economies and combating climate change,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “While over 1.5 million students are already benefiting from the program, this convening of diverse Farm to School champions is so essential as we continue to break down silos and strengthen collaboration across sectors to expand Farm to School’s reach across California.”

The conference featured educational panel discussions, a farm to school vendor fair, farm tours, a farmers’ market lunch and a conversation between First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, who has advocated farm to school for decades.

“What inspires me most about this gathering is seeing friends and farm to school champions from across California,” Secretary Ross said. “From farms, cafeterias and classrooms from Southern California to the North Coast and many regions in between – our whole state is represented today.”

Also at the conference, eight California school districts were honored by the Center for Ecoliteracy with California Food for California Kids 2023 Leadership and Innovation Awards, including: Fort Bragg Unified School District (USD), Fresno USD, Natomas USD, San Miguel Joint Union School District, Santa Ana USD, Santa Clara USD, Sweetwater Union High School District and Tahoe-Truckee USD. Each school district’s nutrition director accepted an award and received recognition for their outstanding accomplishments in school nutrition and farm to school programs.

To get involved in CDFA’s Farm to School Program or learn more about the California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program, visit or email

This entry was posted in Food Access. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *