All parents try to make sure that their children learn how to eat well. But there is only so much you can do about what they’re eating at school. Or is there? The following Action Alert from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) urges people to contact their representative to support Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) in his Farm to School Improvement Act.
“As a way to get healthy food grown by local family farmers into school lunches, NSAC is urging Congress to include $50 million in mandatory funding over the next five years for the national Farm to School program as part of the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization scheduled for action this year.”
Some background on the program from NSAC:
The Farm to School Program would provide one-time competitive grants to schools or non-profit organizations to develop purchasing relationships with local farmers, plan seasonal menus, start school gardens, develop hands-on nutrition education, and provide solutions to infrastructure problems including storage, transportation, food preparation, and technical training.
The Farm to School grant program was authorized in the 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, but USDA has never requested any funding for the program. Congress now has an opportunity to fund this important program when it reauthorizes the Child Nutrition Act in 2010.
Congressman Rush Holt . . . introduced a bill [on Friday February 26] to make improvements to the authorization for the Farm to School program and, most importantly, provide the $10 million a year in mandatory funding ($50 million over the five year life of the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization). Co-sponsoring this important legislation is an excellent opportunity for other legislators to show support for Farm to School.
Farm to School initiatives around the country have demonstrated that Farm to School is a win-win-win for children, schools, local communities and farmers — providing abundant reasons why this initiative should be available to schools throughout the country:
• The choice of healthier produce options in the school cafeteria through Farm to School results in children consuming more fruits and vegetables, leading to lifelong improvements in their diets;
• Schools report a 3 to 16 percent increase in school meal participation when farm-fresh food is served, bringing more school lunch funds to the schools;
• Working creatively with local producers, some schools have found ways to save money while supporting local agriculture by purchasing locally;
• The transaction from Farm to School keeps dollars in the local economy, strengthening local economies and creating jobs;
• Schools provide an important new market opportunity for small and mid-sized family farmers and ranchers.
To contact your representative, visit https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml.
For more information on the bill, visit NSAC’s blog, http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/new-farm-to-school-bill/, or read the bill itself at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.+4710:.