Farm to Cafeteria conference offers opportunity

Now Media Group


The 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference will be hosted June 2-4 at Monona Terrace in Madison.

The conference will convene a diverse group of 1,500 agency and business representatives interested in serving local and regional foods in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, prisons and other institutions. Farmers, distributors, food service managers and agency representatives are encouraged to attend the event to learn about new market opportunities and connect with new partners.

This year's conference features a workshop track for growers focused on topics like the institutional market and food safety. A full day of local field trips on June 2 will provide hands-on exploration of Wisconsin's successful farm to institution projects in action, and each field trip includes a stop at a farm or food production facility.

'We're thrilled to co-host the conference in Madison this summer,' says Vanessa Herald, Farm to School Outreach Specialist at the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS). 'CIAS has been working with farmers for fifteen years to help get local foods into schools. We're excited to highlight that work with a national audience.'

Although the conference has a national scope, the agenda strongly emphasizes Wisconsin's farm to cafeteria successes and spotlights Wisconsin farmers who are integrating institutional sales into their farm businesses. Wisconsin and Great Lakes Region growers, projects and organizations will be featured throughout the conference's short courses, workshops and five-minute lightning talks.

The conference theme — Moving Forward Together — emphasizes the importance of strong partnerships in successful programs. 'We're long on strong and diverse partnerships in Wisconsin, and that's a big reason for our farm to school and other farm to cafeteria progress,' says Sarah Elliott, Wisconsin Farm to School Program Director at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

The 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is organized by the National Farm to School Network and co-hosted by three local partners: CIAS, DATCP and Community GroundWorks.

Registration costs $445 for the full conference and $225 for a single day (Friday or Saturday). Short courses and field trips are not included in the registration fee, and cost between $50 - $100 per event. For more information and to register, visit the conference website at [www.farmtocafeteriaconference.org]www.farmtocafeteriaconference.org.