Yesterday, PSFN hosted the King County Member Training sessions and participated in the F2T Child Care Pilot Kickoff hosted by City of Seattle Early Learning and Family Support Division (ELFS). The events had been booked on the same day for the same time, so we figured, “Why not hold just the events right next door to one another?” It ended up being a big hit. The events were held at the 2100 Building in Seattle, a building which houses thirteen nonprofit organizations which connect kids to the community that supports them, and has public meeting venues. Because of the convenient location, PSFN staff was able to attend both events; producer members attending member trainings were able to pop their head into the enlivening Child Care Kickoff, learn about the project and its sales opportunities; and the early learning and school age community was able to meet some of the producers they’ll be working with. Talk about a new community truly coming together!
The King County Training Session was the second of five PSFN Member Trainings this spring. The Skagit Training sessions were held March 7, and upcoming trainings include: Snohomish County on April 6 at the Snohomish County Extension Office; Island County on May 4 at the Coupeville Public Library; and Whatcom County, TBA. The one-on-one training sessions are an opportunity for PSFN members to sit down with their individual Account Manager and PSFN’s Operations Manager to discuss ways PSFN can use its tools and resources to help move the business or organization forward. Yesterday PSFN staff helped members source organic local flour for child care centers, gain sales access to large-scale feeding programs, and source local products for a new local retail outlet, among other things.
In the next room, the Early Learning and Family Support (ELFS) Farm to Table Kickoff event, welcomed nearly fifteen early learning and school-age child care providers to join the Farm to Table (F2T) Project! So far, PSFN’s F2T Project has been focused on senior meal programs. Another realm of the project, however, is child care centers, and yesterday was the beginning of an eight-month pilot project! The pilot will include eight ELFS-affiliated child care centers. Each center is required to make four local food purchases between now and October 2011. Just as the providers will encourage their tots to give the new local produce a few tries, we’re hoping that by encouraging at least four local purchases, the providers themselves will get used to a new healthy habit of buying locally!
PSFN’s Farm to Community Coordinator, Emma Brewster, gave a presentation on the basics (who, what, where, why, how) of agriculture in the Pacific Northwest and how to source kid-friendly food locally. Karen Mauden, PSFN’s F2T Coordinator, explained the ins and outs of ordering locally through F2T. PSFN also shared fun kids recipes from PSFN Member, Breanna Oberlin, PNA Kids! Food Service Manager (Phinney Neighborhood Association) and a registered dietician. Breanna already works with whole, local foods which she gets from PSFN member, Full Circle. Perfectly, Full Circle is the designated F2T producer for child care for the first two months of the pilot! These recipes, used by an actual care giver, nutritionally analyzed for children, made with local produce in season now from the designated farm, and already “field tested” with kiddos – were a dream come true! Thanks, Breanna, for sharing your great ideas! PSFN and ELFS were fortunate to be joined by Bill Brown and Sabrina Wilz from Full Circle at the kickoff. We’re so happy that the early learning and school age community at the meeting were able to personally meet the farmer they’ll be ordering from! Both Bill and Breanna will be joining PSFN’s F2T Team this weekend at a similar Coalition for Safety and Health in Early Learning (CSHEL) training event this weekend, where we will spread the word about child care’s new and growing role in F2T!
Rochelle Carlson, PSFN Member and F2T Partner from Catholic Community Services also attended the kickoff. She made the trip from Lakewood to Seattle to share with child care providers her experiences buying whole produce through F2T for her senior congregate meal programs in King County. As both a F2T meal-provider partner/buyer, and as a mother of young children in child care, Rochelle offered a unique perspective on the ease and value of F2T for the new child care participants. Thanks so much, Rochelle, for making the trek on our behalf!
Between the member trainings and the kickoff, yesterday was definitely a busy day for PSFN. Though busy, this is just how we want to use our time: working in person with members; making introductions and forming relationships among them; and learning from various perspectives how we can better connect all sorts of players in the local food system. PSFN’s F2T Team is overjoyed to be working with ELFS and with the early learning and school age community as a whole. The enthusiasm and energy among this community is palpable, and we can’t wait to get started! See more pictures from the ELFS Kickoff Below, and even more on our Facebook Page.