The Farm to School Act of 2015 has been officially introduced in Congress! This bipartisan effort is being led by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH).
The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
Why is this bill important?
- Farm to school is a proven method for improving the health of our nation’s children. Today, more than 23 million students are making healthier food choices at school and at home thanks to farm to school activities like school gardens, cooking classes and incorporating local foods in school meals.
- Demand for the successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program far exceeds supply. In its first three years, the program received more than 1,000 applications but only had enough funding to award 221 grants. In other words, just one in five projects was funded.
- Schools are an important market for farmers. In 2011-12, U.S. schools spent $385 million on local food. Farmers participating in farm to school initiatives nationwide have seen an average 5 percent increase in income.
What’s next for the Farm to School Act of 2015?
- Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. Make sure Congress knows that farm to school is a powerful tool for supporting our kids, our farmers and our communities!
- This act is what’s known as a “marker bill” which means it will be considered by Congress as part of the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act (CNR), which is set to expire on September 30.
- As Congress considers the Farm to School Act of 2015 and CNR over the coming months, expect to hear from us about steps you can take to encourage your Senators and Representatives to support the bill. To learn how you can be an advocate, visit our website, sign up for our next webinar or watch this archived webinar.