Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - 10:41am

National Farm to School Network to Host National Leaders and Local Food Advocates in Madison, Wis., June 2-4, 2016, to Explore Solutions to Obesity and Food System Reform

Chicago, Ill., Jan. 13, 2016 – For three days in June, more than 1,500 stakeholders working to improve community health and economic opportunities for farmers will converge on Madison, Wis., for the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference. These leaders are breaking down barriers to sourcing healthy, local food for institutional cafeterias and connecting communities and children to where their food comes from. Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, the 2016 conference theme, Moving Forward Together, will highlight innovative partnerships to build momentum and ensure long-term sustainability for local food efforts nationwide.  
“Cafeterias in schools, universities, hospitals, prisons and early care sites serve more than 40 million Americans every day, placing the farm to cafeteria movement at the forefront of the fight to end obesity and strengthen local food systems,” said Anupama Joshi, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network. “The National Farm to School Network is excited to host this event, which brings together stakeholders across multiple sectors to learn from each other and to accelerate our collective impact.”
Drawing attendees representing diverse professional backgrounds and communities from across the United States, the conference is designed to appeal to beginners and veterans of the movement alike. Madison, Wis., was chosen as the conference site for its vibrant local food movement, strong farm to institution networks and thriving agricultural industry. Local partners University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; and Community GroundWorks bring broad farm to cafeteria and on-site garden experience, workshop and training expertise, and local perspective to the conference planning committee. 
“We are delighted to host the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference,” said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. “It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our city, neighborhoods, lakes, and activities, and the great farm-to-fork culture our region offers to 1,500 visitors.”
“We are thrilled to share Wisconsin’s robust farm to cafeteria projects with a national audience,” said Vanessa Herald, Great Lakes Regional Lead for the National Farm to School Network and Farm to School Outreach Specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. “Madison is a delicious epicenter of these institutional local food efforts, and the city is ready to showcase all it has to offer through hands-on field trips, savory restaurants and the nation’s largest producer-only farmers’ market.”
“We are pleased to be able to showcase the rich history of the Madison area’s agricultural and food traditions to such an important audience. We can’t wait to welcome conference attendees to Madison and to allow them to see for themselves how steeped our region is in healthy food production and our local food movement. Area officials are strong advocates of supporting local food producers and creating access to fresh and healthy food for our children and all residents,” said Deb Archer, President and CEO of the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Held June 2-4, 2016, at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace Convention Center on the shores of Lake Monona, the event will include nearly 50 skill-building workshops, dynamic keynote speakers, engaging short courses, local field trips to innovative farm to cafeteria sites and numerous networking events. Early bird registration opens Feb. 15, 2016, at Scholarship applications will be accepted from Jan. 15 - Feb. 29, 2016.
Food service professionals, farmers and food producers, educators, policy makers, entrepreneurs, students and youth leaders, on-site garden coordinators, representatives from nonprofits and government agencies, public health professionals, and others engaged in the farm to cafeteria movement interested in attending the conference can learn more and sign up to receive updates at
About Host:
National Farm to School Network
The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is the leading voice for the U.S. farm to school movement, providing information, advocacy and networking for communities working to bring local food sourcing and food and agriculture education into school systems and early care and education sites. To meet your NFSN State Lead and learn more about farm to school activities happening in your state, visit
About Local Partners:
Community GroundWorks
Community GroundWorks is a nonprofit organization that connects people to nature and local food. Through hands-on education, children and adults learn gardening, urban farming, healthy eating, and natural areas restoration. Organized in Madison, Wis., in 2001 as The Friends of Troy Gardens, Community GroundWorks serves diverse communities and schools locally and across the state. To learn more about our programs, visit    
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) serves the people of Wisconsin to assure safe, wholesome food; consumer protection and fair business practices; healthy people, animals, and plants; a clean environment; and strong agriculture and commerce. DATCP supports robust farm to school activities throughout the state and serves as the Wisconsin State Lead for the National Farm to School Network. Click here for more information or to sign up for the Wisconsin Farm to School Newsletter.
Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems
The Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) is a research center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. CIAS was created in 1989 to build UW sustainable agriculture research programs that respond to farmer and citizen needs. Our work focuses on how integrated farming systems can contribute to environmental, economic, social and intergenerational sustainability. CIAS has been active in state and regional farm to school efforts for more than ten years and serves as the Great Lakes Regional Lead Agency for the National Farm to School Network.


Food, Wellness