Leahy Secures $100,000 To Support The Farm To School Institute At Shelburne Farms

(MONDAY, March 2, 2020) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced Monday that Shelburne Farms will receive $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Community Food Systems to support the Northeast Farm to School Institute.  Leahy, long the Senate’s leader in advancing the Farm to School movement, included language in the 2019 and 2020 federal budget bills directing USDA to fund a farm to school institute with the aim of building the capacity of schools to design and implement farm to school programing.  Shelburne Farms is one of the first two recipients nationwide of this new grant program.

Leahy said:  “Time and time again Vermont has led the nation in promoting the link between nutrition and our agricultural economy.  The Farm to School Institute is one more example of Vermont’s path-breaking leadership.  Through their work with school teams, the Institute ensures that schools around the state and region can implement lasting farm to school programing that connects students to the food they eat and the farms that grow it.”

Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED), a collaboration between Shelburne Farms and NOFA-VT, established the Farm to School Institute at Shelburne Farms in 2010.  The Institute provides professional development, technical assistance and other resources to support schools and communities engaged in nutrition education about farm fresh foods.  To date, the Institute has supported 97 schools from seven states across the Northeast helping to improve nutrition education for roughly 102,000 students.  The USDA grant will bring teams from schools across New England and national farm to school leaders together to learn about best practices for connecting students and school meal programs to local agricultural producers.

VT FEED Project Director Betsy Rosenbluth said:  "We are so excited to receive this grant from USDA to support the Northeast Farm to School Institute that has helped over 100 schools impacting over 100,000 students across the Northeast. The funding supports schools in building lasting farm to school programs, giving thousands of children access to healthy, local food. Through food systems education, young leaders are engaging in creating a more equitable food system.”

The Leahy-authored USDA Farm to School program receives $5 million per year in annual appropriations.  As Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee Leahy has been instrumental in securing additional discretionary funding for this important program through annual appropriations bills.  In the current fiscal year Leahy led the effort to increase funding for the Farm to School program to a total of $14 million.  In 2019, Leahy and Senator David Perdue (R–GA) introduced bipartisan legislation to raise the program’s authorized funding level from $5 million to $15 million.  Their legislation would expand 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. 

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