U.S. Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Farm to School Act of 2019, which would expand partnerships between farmers and school districts and encourage schools to use more locally-grown produce in students’ meals.
The legislation builds upon the existing Farm to School program and would provide grant-based funding to procure local foods, establish school gardens, and educate children and families on the importance of healthy foods.
“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% 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.”
“The farm to school movement is a dual solution to helping address hunger in America,” said Senator Leahy. “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.”
“We’re proud to endorse this bill, and thank Senator Perdue for his leadership in supporting the health of our nation’s children and new economic opportunities for farmers through farm to school,” said Chloe Marshall, Policy Specialist for the National Farm to School Network.
“The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition thanks Senator Perdue for acknowledging the positive economic and health impacts brought about by farm to school relationships, and for his co-sponsorship of the Farm to School Act of 2019,” said Wes King, Senior Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
The Farm to School program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Perdue and Leahy’s bill would increase the program’s authorized funding level from $5 million to $15 million. Studies have shown that every dollar spent on local food can generate up to an additional $2.16 in economic activity.
As of 2014, 93 Georgia school districts and 1,615 Georgia schools participated in Farm to School activities.
Perdue and Leahy’s bill is cosponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives on June 27, 2019, by Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-01).
Click here for full text of the bill.