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FNS Biographies

Last Modified: 03/14/2014

Deborah J. Kane
National Director
USDA Farm to School Program

Deborah Kane was appointed as USDA’s National Director of Farm to School in January 2012 to promote and expand USDA’s Farm to School efforts by implementing the provisions provided in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010.  She oversees a new farm to school grant program, and continues to look for creative ways to increase schools’ access to healthy, local foods. Kane leads the interagency farm to school team, advises the Administration on farm to school policies, key strategies and priorities, and promotes and represents federal farm to school programming to Congressional subcommittees, external stakeholders, and other interested parties. USDA expects to enhance schools’ ability to work with regional producers, create economic opportunities for food producers of all kinds and empower schools to increase or augment programming that builds food literacy among the nation’s children.

Kane most recently served as the Vice President of Food & Farms at Ecotrust where she oversaw a wide variety of programming designed to create market opportunities for regional producers throughout the greater Pacific Northwest. Kane also served as publisher of Edible Portland, a quarterly magazine designed to foster increased understanding of regional food systems.

To further support innovative procurement strategies, Kane launched FoodHub, a first of its kind, online marketplace designed to connect wholesale buyers, particularly pre-K and K-12 school food service directors, and sellers of regionally grown food in 2010. Both FoodHub and Kane received national recognition from the likes of Fast Company, with FoodHub named one of the “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Food”, and Kane named one of the “10 Most Inspiring People in Sustainable Food.” In addition, she was selected as a White House Champion of Change where she promoted the use of technology to help schools access healthy, regionally sourced food. Kane is also the author of many highly regarded and widely cited publications on farm to school initiatives, and has received national recognition for her innovative work in food and sustainability.  

In 2004 Kane served as host and co-creator of a television show called The Head Table. Equally at ease at the podium, in front of the camera, or one on one, Deborah is a respected national media source and frequent lecturer on agricultural issues. Prior to joining Ecotrust, Kane ran an independent consulting business specializing in sustainable food and farming contracts. From 1997 to 2004, Kane served as executive director of Food Alliance, a national certification organization for environmentally friendly and socially responsible agriculture practices.

Kane received an MS in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development with an emphasis on sustainable agriculture from the University of Georgia. She also has a BA in International Relations from the University of Virginia.