The mission of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is to increase food security and reduce hunger in partnership with cooperating organizations by providing children and low-income people with access to food, a healthy diet, and nutrition education in a manner that supports American agriculture and inspires public confidence. FNS provides excellent opportunities for specialized training through its own facilities and outside resources. Career guidance and on- and off-the-job training programs are tailored to an individual employee's needs. If you want to apply your knowledge and skills to food program activities that seek to strengthen America, there is a challenging and rewarding career waiting for you with FNS!
These positions serve as the Farm to School Coordinator and will be filled in each of the following: Mountain Plains Regional Office (Denver, CO), Southwest Regional Office (Dallas, TX), and Western Regional Office (San Francisco, CA).
This position is being concurrently announced under Merit Promotion procedures on FNCS-16-SNPF2S. Disabled Veterans, candidates with 3 or more years of active duty military service, and candidates eligible for special hiring authorities can apply to the Merit Promotion announcement if they meet criteria for the above and include supporting documents.
As a Program Specialist (Farm to School Coordinator), the incumbent will:
- Perform a variety of responsibilities surrounding the implementation of the USDA Farm to School Program, including the grants and training and technical assistance aspects of the Farm to School Program, and will actively participate in driving the program’s growth and evolution, both from a strategic opportunity perspective as well as an execution of key initiatives perspective.
- Provide on the ground training and technical assistance (T&TA) and support to a wide variety of farm to school stakeholders within a specific geographic area (as defined by the Regional Office) and be held accountable for increasing the availability of local foods in schools in that specific geographic area.
- Assume broad responsibility for providing T&TA to interested parties throughout the region and will routinely carry out T&TA activities with a wide variety of constituents, including schools, state and local agencies, producers and producer groups, Indian tribal Organizations, and other farm to school constituents. At times, the incumbent may be called upon to provide training and technical assistance on select topics to national audiences as well. In addition, the incumbent is expected to ensure regional office colleagues are well versed in farm to school programming so that issues such as food safety, local and regional procurement, etc. are well understood by program staff.
- Play a key role in identifying T&TA gaps in the broader farm to school community and will endeavor to fill those gaps by fine tuning existing resource materials and/or creating new USDA T&TA program offerings.
- Deliver T&TA via many delivery methods, such as but not limited to hosting periodic conference calls, webinars, training sessions, state or regional conferences and meetings, power points presentations, white papers, blog posts, listserve communications, and other vehicles as deemed appropriate. The incumbent is expected to take an expansive view of T&TA and will be involved in creating well networked communities of practice within the region.
- Participate in evaluation and reporting requirements related to the Farm to School Program to meet Congressional HHFKA objectives, specifically that the Secretary of Agriculture shall collect and share information on best practices, and disseminate research and data on existing farm to school programs. Thus, the incumbent will routinely identify and track regional best practices and develop case studies to demonstrate program execution opportunities.
- The incumbent will also fulfill routine farm to school reporting requests, such as FNS monthly progress reports, media tracking, Strike Force reporting requirements, Know Your Farmer monthly reports, annual progress and impact reports, etc. as well as create and maintain specialized reports and tracking documents (e.g. state by state farm to school policies).
- Work closely with national office staff to meet Congressional HHFKA objectives related to grant activities, specifically that the Secretary of Agriculture shall award competitive grants that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. The incumbent will serve as a lead reviewer on farm to school grants and coordinate recruitment of additional regional office reviewers. This work also involves on-going monitoring of grantee performance and site visits to farm to school grantees to check on progress and understand best practices.
- Identify opportunities to integrate community food systems principles and practices throughout FNS Special Nutrition Programs more broadly.
- Be considered a resident expert on key local and regional procurement issues, such as but not limited to: geographic preference, food safety and handling, school garden product integration, and GAP/GHP.
- Review program operations in the field and engages in broad program development activities that include, but are not limited to, suggesting changes to policies and providing feedback regarding FNS program resources and strategies.
- 25% or Greater
- Up to 40% travel