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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.

Tes Thraves

Tes Thraves

Farm to School Coordinator
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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

Tracey Bates, MPH, RDN, LDN, FAND

School Nutrition Specialist and Co-Chair of the Farm to School Coalition of NC
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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.

Jessica Sparks-Mussulin

Jessica Sparks-Mussulin

Program Manager, Growing Minds at ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project)
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Jessica Sparks-Mussulin is the Program Manager for Growing Minds at ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project). She coordinates the Growing Minds @ University program, Growing Minds Farm to School Funding opportunities, provides teachers, undergraduate, and graduate students with Growing Minds resources, training, and technical support. Jessica also serves as state supporting partner for National Farm to School Network and a Steering Committee member for the Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina.

Ruth McDowell, MS

Ruth McDowell, MS

School Nutrition Director for Edgecombe County Public Schools
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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.

Brandy Starnes

Brandy Starnes

Western Region Field Representative, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services Food Distribution
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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.

Jared Cates

Jared Cates

Community Mobilizer
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An Orange County native, Jared holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has worked in nonprofit organizations in North Carolina for over a decade.

His work on the CFSA Policy team focuses on connecting, organizing and mobilizing community members around critical public policy issues across the Carolinas. Jared also works to support the growing network of food policy councils in the region through his work on the Community Food Strategies Team. Through both of these roles, his work focuses on raising the visibility of local farm and food issues and in supporting communities in advocating for fair farm and food policies.

Jared lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina, where he is an active gardener and poultry parent.

Arneisha Smallwood, M.S.

Arneisha Smallwood, M.S.

Farm to School Outreach Extension Assistant, Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS)
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Arneisha Smallwood serves as the farm to school outreach extension assistant for the Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina at CEFS (Center for Environmental Farming Systems). Also, she is the Founder and CEO of Agriculture is Life, LLC a t-shirt business that highlights women of color in the agricultural industry. Ms. Smallwood is dedicated to creating her own path within the agricultural industry and helping others along the way. She is passionate about building generational wealth and educating individuals about agriculture. Arneisha is a member of the Gamma Sigma Delta - Honor Society of Agriculture and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Currently, she serves as an ambassador for Toucan Education Programs of Belize and supporting core partner of North Carolina for the National Farm to School Network. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Agricultural Education (Professional Services) with a concentration in Agribusiness from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Diane Beth, MS, RDN, LDN

Diane Beth, MS, RDN, LDN

Nutrition Program Consultant
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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.

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We have a wide variety of resources for teachers, parents, and school administrators.
Contact the Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina today for more information!