National Farm to School Network and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition urge support for the Act, emphasizing farm to school’s proven impacts for children, farmers, and local economies
WASHINGTON, April 23, 2021 (Newswire.com) – A bipartisan group of Senate leaders have introduced the Farm to School Act of 2021 to support schools, farmers, and communities in building back equitably from the pandemic. The bill, sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Susan Collins (R-ME), will expand funding and programmatic scope of the highly successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program, ensuring more communities have a competitive opportunity to benefit from the program. A similar bill was introduced in the House in March. National Farm to School Network (NFSN) and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) applaud this effort to support local food systems and child nutrition programs during this critical time.
“The Farm to School Act of 2021 couldn’t come at a more necessary time. When the pandemic began, school nutrition professionals, educators, and local food producers were some of the first people to step up and ensure the ongoing care of children and families. The measures included in this bill will give them much-needed resources to continue their work as we emerge from the pandemic, while helping build a more resilient, equitable food system,” said Karen Spangler, Policy Director with National Farm to School Network.
“Food is fundamental to our very existence, and learning about food should be a fundamental part of all students’ educational experience. Over the last 15 years, farm to school programs have helped thousands of schools connect students with real, healthy foods. These programs have also been powerful economic drivers, generating hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for family farmers each year, according to the most recent USDA Farm to School Census,” said Wes King, Senior Policy Specialist with National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
The USDA Farm to School Grant Program provides funds on a competitive basis to help schools procure local foods for school meals and support activities like school gardens. The program was created through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and includes $5 million in annual mandatory funding. Today, USDA has awarded over $52 million through Farm to School Grants, funding 719 projects reaching 21 million students in 47,000 schools. The Farm to School Act of 2021 will:
- Permanently increase annual mandatory funding to $15 million;
- Increase the maximum grant award to $500,000;
- Prioritize proposals that engage beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and serve high-need schools;
- Fully include early care and education, summer food service and after school programs sites; and,
- Increase access among Native schools to traditional foods.
NFSN and NSAC urge Members of Congress to show commitment to the well-being of the nation’s kids, family farmers, and food-producing communities by fully supporting the Farm to School Act of 2021.
Press Contact: Anna Mullen, NFSN Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: National Farm to School Network