Leahy And Perdue Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Renew And Expand Emerging Farm To School Efforts
. . . Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill Will Reauthorize Farm To School Program
WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, June 27, 2019) – U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), David Perdue (R-GA), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), Thursday introduced legislation to extend a key nutrition program for school-aged children. The bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2019 will increase the federal resources committed to helping to bring fresh, local foods to schools nationwide. It also helps set the stage for action as Congress begins the process of reauthorizing child nutrition programs.
Companion legislation was also introduced Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). Leahy is the author of the existing Farm to School program and championed the funding for it in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. He has also been instrumental in securing additional discretionary funding for the program through annual appropriations bills.
Senator Leahy said: “The farm to school movement is a dual solution to helping address hunger in America. It both encourages healthier eating habits among children, and supports local farmers. Children, communities, farmers and schools all win under this formula. The Farm to School Act of 2019 will build on and extend these successes. Hungry children cannot learn. Providing security to our children goes beyond having roofs over their heads. It means having food on their plates. It also means offering healthy choices to help form healthy lifestyles. Vermont has been a leader in forging farm-to-school partnerships, and many of the improvements in this bill are drawn from those successes.”
“The Farm to School program connects schools with local farmers and provides hands-on opportunities for kids to learn where their food comes from,” said Senator Perdue. “Studies have shown that when local food is served in schools, students consume 30 percent more fruits and vegetables. The Farm to School program is an important first step toward improving child nutrition, while also supporting our agriculture community and growing the economy. The Secretary of Agriculture has been a strong advocate for this program, and I applaud Senator Leahy for his bipartisan efforts on this bill.”
“Ohio farmers grow some of the best produce in the country,” said Senator Brown. “This legislation will increase nutritious, locally grown foods in our school lunchrooms while strengthening farms and rural communities across the country.”
“Since 2013, schools and non-profits throughout the State of Maine have received funding through the Farm to School Grant Program to help purchase local food and implement innovative food and wellness lessons for students,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan bill would ensure that students in Maine and across the country will continue to have access to local and healthy foods while supporting Maine farmers and reducing childhood obesity.”
The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and authorizes federal grants to help schools across the country plan and implement farm to school programs. Grant applications for the program have exceeded the funding available for the program. Since 2013, USDA has received more than 1,900 applications requesting over $141 million. But less than a quarter of the grant applications received for the program can be funded each year.
The Leahy-Perdue-Brown-Collins bill would raise the program’s authorized level from $5 million to $15 million, and increase the maximum grant award to $250,000. The legislation also expands the scope of the program to include pre-schools, summer food service programs, and after-school programs, and it enhances access to tribal foods and other farming such as aquaculture. The legislation also helps grantees improve procurement and distribution of local food.
The Farm to School Act of 2019 has the support of leading national advocacy groups including the National Farm to School Network, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the National Education Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, FoodCorps, the American Heart Association, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and the National Farmers Union.
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David Carle (w/Leahy), 202-224-3693
Jenni Sweat (w/Perdue), 202-224-0614
David Carle: 202-224-3693
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