Farm to School Coalition of NC Steering Committee
The Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina (F2SCNC) brings together a dedicated group of farm to school stakeholders that will collaborate to expand and strengthen farm to school initiatives focused on K-12 students across the state.
Farm to School Coordinator, Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS)Show Bio
After a twelve-year career in teaching and folklore, Tes began work at CEFS in 2007 on community-based food systems, and currently on Farm to School/ECE and Racial Equity. For seven years, Tes cohosted FoodCorps NC with her co-conspirator from 4H-NC. She founded CEFS’s Food Youth Initiative, in partnership with multiple grassroots organizations, to support youth leadership in NC, especially those from communities most adversely impacted by inequities. She is also one of the many founders of the Farm to School Coalition of NC and serves on its steering committee, is the North Carolina core partner for the National Farm to School Network, and is on CEFS’ Committee on Racial Equity (CORE) which does racial equity in food systems trainings, but more importantly strives for systems impact and use of an equity lens across local foods work. Racial Equity is a daily practice and Tes is grateful for all those who laid the path as well as current leaders everywhere. She is a white, Southern, mountain woman re-planted in the piedmont. In her free time, Tes is planting pollinators with her wife, caring for critters, inoculating mushrooms everywhere, or making up songs and cooking for the wee ones in their life.
Tracey Bates, MPH, RDN, LDN, FAND
School Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI)Show Bio
Tracey Bates, MPH, RDN, LDN, FAND is a School Nutrition Specialist for School Nutrition Services with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. In this role, she coordinates nutrition communications and outreach, develops educational materials and resources, supports healthy school environments, and provides professional development for School Nutrition personnel, educators and others working with school-age children and their families.Bates is currently co-chair for the Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina and serves on the advisory committee for FoodCorps NC and the Whole Child NC interagency committee. In addition, she serves on the steering committee and is a past chair for NC Action for Healthy Kids. Bates is a former House of Delegates Director and Board of Directors member for the national Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A Fellow of the Academy as well as a former delegate and past president for the North Carolina Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Bates received the Recognized Young Dietitian and Member of the Year awards.
Ruth McDowell, M.S.
School Nutrition Director, Edgecombe County Public SchoolsShow Bio
Ruth has worked in Child Nutrition for thirty -three years and has enjoyed every minute of it. She started her career as a Women Infant and Children (WIC) Nutritionist with the Washington County Health Department. Other work experience includes working for the NC Cooperative Extension Service as a 4-H Agent and also the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) coordinator. Because Ruth is committed to supporting Farm to School, she diverted commodity entitlement dollars to purchase locally grown produce from Department of Defense (DOD). She currently serves as the School Nutrition Director for Edgecombe County Public Schools. Ruth is an active member of the School Nutrition Association (SNA) and has served on the SNA Executive Board. She has also served on the NC Food Distribution Advisory Council and currently serves on the NC Procurement Alliance Board of Directors and the Farm to School Coalition of NC. Ruth received three USDA Best Practice awards and received the SNA 2018 Director of the Year award.
Western Region Field Representative, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services Food DistributionShow Bio
Brandy is the Western Region Field Representative for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services Food Distribution Division where she works with Schools Child Nutrition department’s to develop their Farm to School programs. She graduated from NCSU a BSS in Agriculture Education, Animal Science minor. After graduation she briefly taught Agriculture at North West Cabarrus, but soon after spent time at Duke Energy doing environmental assessment. Brandy went back to teaching where she developed her love of using Hydroponics and Aquaponics in the classroom. Brandy lives with her husband and two children on a working farm in Rowan County.
Diane Beth, MS, RDN, LDN
Nutrition Program Consultant, NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS)Show Bio
Diane is the Nutrition Program Consultant with the Children & Youth Branch at the NC Division of Public Health. Diane leads efforts to incorporate research and evidence about what works for nutrition into Branch programs/services focused in the school system, school-based health centers, local health departments, early care and education settings and other private providers through training, technical assistance and consultation. She also coordinates and collaborates across the Branch and with other sections of the Division, other agencies and organizations to enhance interventions with children and youth.
With over 30 years of experience in public health and dietetics, Ms. Beth is recognized for her leadership, communication, collaboration and integration skills. Diane received a Master of Science degree in Public Health Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University. She also completed a dietetic internship at the University of Cincinnati Hospital.
Diane hails from Ohio and has called North Carolina home since 1992. She is passionate about food, good health, dancing, hiking, and sharing time with family and friends. She also loves performing (lead vocals and percussion) in a band (SWAG) with her wonderful husband, Ray.
Robert Van Dyke, CFCS
FCS Education Consultant, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI)Show Bio
Robert Van Dyke, CFCS, serves as the FCS Education Consultant with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and is working on implementing high-quality Food, Nutrition, Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Counseling and Mental Health, and Future Teacher programs that meet the demands of students and the needs of business and industry.
Robert is working on his Ph.D. in Family and Consumer Sciences Education at Texas Tech University, holds a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences Education with an emphasis in Leadership and Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University.
Robert is active in FCS/ CTE organizations through serving on the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Board of Directors, President-elect for the LEAD FCS Education, and ESEA chair for the North Carolina AAFCS Affiliate. In his free time, he loves to cook, bake, read, and spend time with friends and family.
Retired Child Nutrition DirectorShow Bio
Valerie had worked for Child Nutrition for twenty- nine years and had enjoyed the networking and opportunities. She started her career as an intern in the Child Nutrition Department with Greensboro City Schools while attending UNC-Greensboro. She spent two years working for a contract foodservice in Greensboro and Raleigh until she joined the Child Nutrition world. She started working in Durham City Schools in 1990 as Assistant Director of Child Nutrition. In 2006, she became Director in Child Nutrition in Warren County Schools. After two years in Warren County, she became the Child Nutrition Director of Orange County Schools. She stayed in that position until she retired in February 2020. She has served on the NC Food Distribution Advisory Council, Orange County Food Council, and Orange County Cooperative Extension Advisory Board. Valerie received the Farm to School Coalition Honorable Mention Award in 2019.
Program Coordinator, ASAP Growing MindsShow Bio
Gwen began working at ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) in March 2020 as a Program Coordinator for ASAP’s Growing Minds farm to school program. Gwen brings to the Growing Minds team her background in education, communications, fundraising, program development, and urban farming. Prior to joining ASAP, Gwen spent over four and a half years at Green Opportunities, a community-based job training program, where she served as a 2015 Tzedek Social Justice Fellow. Before moving to Asheville, Gwen spent eight years working in the nonprofit sector in New York City. She served as a Farm Coordinator for the Brooklyn-based nonprofit Added Value, where she oversaw the construction and cultivation of the first urban farm built on the grounds of a NYC public housing development, provided training in urban agriculture and farm to school education to young adult residents of public housing, and facilitated educational and community programming. She also worked as the school garden coordinator at the NY Harbor School, and led the experiential education programs at the Science Barge, a sustainable urban farm in Yonkers, NY. Gwen graduated magna cum laude from Florida State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a B.A. in Music. She earned an M.A. in Geography from Hunter College of the City University of New York in 2012.
Farzi Katkhordeh MS, RDN, LDN, SNS
Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI)Show Bio
Farzi has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science from University of Arkansas and completed a Master of Science degree in Food and Nutrition from Oklahoma State University. She is a registered, licensed dietitian and accredited as a School Nutrition Specialist (SNS). She has been intimately (so you know where her heart is) involved with School Nutrition Programs starting from Texas where she served as the Nutrition Specialist. She then moved to Maine to lead Maine School Administrative District # 1 as the School Nutrition Director for 14 years.
She moved to North Carolina in 2006 and worked as the School Nutrition Supervisor with Wake County Schools. Since 2013 she joined the NCDPI as a Nutrition Specialist.
Farzi and her husband live in Kure beach, NC. She has two children. Her Daughter practices medicine in Austin, Texas and her son practices law in Arkansas. Her hobbies are walking, and gardening.