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The First 10 Months of 2019: A Farm to School Policy Perspective

NFSN Staff Wednesday, November 06, 2019

By Chloe Marshall, Policy Specialist

Ten months in, 2019 has been full of exciting farm to school policy wins, challenges, and opportunities. Now that we’ve gone through another successful National Farm to School Month and have begun to look towards 2020, I want to pause, reflect and celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far this year, together.

In early 2019, while catching our breath from the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, we were jolted back into action by Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R-KS) February announcement of his desire to write a child nutrition reauthorization (CNR). Advocates around the country, including us at the National Farm to School Network, quickly became ready to gear up for another journey towards a new CNR. Child nutrition bills have not been reauthorized (government speak for rewriting a package of bills) since 2010, when sweeping changes were made to school meals, including new comprehensive nutrition standards, adoption of the Community Eligibility Provision, and - a gold star on our list - the beginning of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program

Since February, we’ve made major strides and had some big wins in advocating for strong farm to school priorities in the next CNR: 

  • We hosted a series of listening sessions to hear from farm to school advocates about how CNR can better support their efforts. 
  • In partnership with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, we championed the introduction of two signature bills - the Farm to School Act of 2019 and the Kids Eat Local Act - that directly address the feedback and needs we’ve heard from farm to school stakeholders. As of today, the Farm to School Act has 17 cosponsors and the Kids Eat Local Act has 22 cosponsors. Both bills have strong bipartisan support, a beautiful example of how our advocacy can push Congress to work together for good.
  • In September, we hosted three farm to school advocates on Capitol Hill to educate lawmakers from Arkansas and Kansas about the importance of farm to school. Our fly-in was made possible with the generous support of the Johnson Family Foundation - thank you! 
  • We have deepened relationships with national partners including the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Food Corps, both of whom have led advocacy efforts alongside us and offered tremendous support. Additional thanks goes out to original endorsers of our farm to school bills, including American Heart Association, Union of Concerned Scientists, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Food Corps, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Education Association, and the National Farmers Union.
  • Our online petitions in support of our two bills have gathered more than 800 signatures from individuals and organizations. You can still sign on!
  • And, the US Senate passed a resolution declaring October 2019 National Farm to School Month! The US House did this in 2010, and we love bicameral support for a great cause! 
Can you believe we accomplished all that in less than ten months? If you haven’t thanked yourself for the hard work you’ve done, do it right now. Then turn to your neighbor (or your social media friends) and repeat after me: “Thank you for moving the movement.” Farm to school has worked because of YOUR work, and we thank you. 

Will you help us take it even further? The future of farm to school is in our hands, and everyday is an opportunity to transform our food system. While we wait to see a draft CNR bill, there’s work that can still be done: 

  • Add your name and/or your organization to our letters to Congress, then share with a friend (or many friends). 
  • Share your farm to school work on social media and tag us - @farmtoschool / #farmtoschool - and your members of Congress. Ask them to support the Farm to School Act and Kids Eat Local Act. 
  • Reach out to your members of Congress to urge their support for our bills (lobbying) or simply educate them on the state of farm to school in your community (not lobbying). 
Beyond CNR, there are many other opportunities to advocate for policy that advances farm to school that we’ve been working on at the National Farm to School Network. In 2019, we’ve been: centering equity in our policy advocacy; establishing an official policy platform; supporting the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill; building new federal agency relationships; sharing our new State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018 (co-authored by the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School); digging deeper into state and local policy opportunities; and, working to become a more active voice in organizing for food justice. 

The heart of our work at the National Farm to School Network is not policy or programs, it’s people - kids, farmers, communities, and everyone in between. What policy matters matter to you, and how can the National Farm to School Network support your interests? I want to know! Connect with me anytime at chloe@farmtoschool.org. The power of our network is in partners like you who are working for change. As we continue to organize and advocate for strong policy, let’s remember that we’re ultimately advocating for ourselves, for each other, for our children, and for our futures. Onward and upward, together! 

Senate Adopts National Farm to School Month Resolution

NFSN Staff Friday, November 01, 2019
 
On October 31, the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution (S. Res 403) – sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and David Perdue (R-GA) – designating October 2019 as “National Farm to School Month.” The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and National Farm to School Network (NFSN) jointly praised the effort to highlight the important relationship between farmers, schools, and our nation’s children. The organizations, which work closely together to advance federal policies that further farm to school connections and the socioeconomic benefits that those relationships confer, also underscored the opportunity for Senators to further support these efforts by including the Farm to School Act of 2019 (S. 2026) and the Kids Eat Local Act (S. 1817) in the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR).

“The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition welcomes this strong showing of support from the Senate for national farm to school efforts,” said Wes King, Senior Policy Specialist at NSAC. “Farm to school partnerships are important opportunities for our youth to learn about food, agriculture, and how to respect and care for the land. That’s not where the benefits stop, however. Farm to school programs also allow our nation’s family farmers – many of whom are struggling due to lagging markets and unstable trade partnerships – to form lucrative business relationships with schools and school districts. These relationships are a win-win-win, providing crucial business opportunities to family farmers, fresh foods to public schools, and healthy meals and hands-on educational opportunities for students. We hope that this resolution signals that Senators are also ready and willing to support the Kids Eat Local Act in the upcoming CNR. The Act was introduced with bipartisan support earlier this year, and would help make it easier for schools to source healthy food from local farmers, ranchers and fishermen.”

“Farm to school activities - including kids eating, growing, and learning about local and just food - happen 365 days a year across more than 42,000 schools. “National Farm to School Month” is a well-deserved time to celebrate the successes of these efforts and to raise awareness of the opportunity and need for more,” said Chloe Marshall, Policy Specialist at the National Farm to School Network. “We applaud the Senate for recognizing the positive impacts that farm to school has in improving child nutrition, supporting family farmers and local economies, and building vibrant, more equitable communities. We urge the Senate to continue to invest in the well being of our nation’s kids, farmers, and communities in the next CNR by strengthening the USDA Farm to School Grant Program with the Farm to School Act of 2019, which was introduced with bipartisan support earlier this year. In addition, we also urge support for child nutrition programs that ensure every child has sufficient access to nutritious meals, including expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and maintaining strong nutrition standards within these programs.”

Learn more about our farm to school priorities for the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization here.

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.

Farm to School Advocates kick off Farm to School Month in DC

NFSN Staff Friday, October 18, 2019

This blog was written by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and can be read in-full on their website here

In September, the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) brought three farm to school advocates to Capitol Hill to share the amazing farm to school work they’ve been doing with lawmakers in Congress. Much of the work that these advocates have been engaged in to source more local, healthy food into schools across Arkansas and Kansas is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Grant Program.

During their visit to the nation’s capital, Allyson Mrachek and Maegan Brown from Arkansas, and Rachael McGinnis Millsap from Kansas visited eight congressional offices across their home states and had the opportunity to share both the successes they’ve seen, as well as the ongoing challenges, within their own communities. A central goal of their visit was telling decision makers in Congress why healthy food, family farm, and anti-hunger advocates want the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR) to include the Farm to School Act of 2019.

The Farm to School Act of 2019, for which NFSN and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) have aggressively advocated, would provide an additional $10 million in annual funding for the Farm to School Grant program. The bill would also make policy changes that would improve access to the program for Native American communities, and prioritize projects that engage beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers. 

Read Allyson, Maegan and Rachael’s farm to school stories and learn about impacts of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog.  

Continue Reading

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.

USDA Announces 2019 Farm to School Grant Recipients

NFSN Staff Monday, July 22, 2019

Congratulations to the newest USDA Farm to School Grant Program recipients! USDA announced last week that a record-breaking 126 projects in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been awarded farm to school grants to explore, expand or scale up their farm to school activities. The 2019 awards total $9 million, and will impact 3.2 million students in 5,400 schools. 

Eighteen National Farm to School Network Core and Supporting Partner organizations were selected for 2019 grants, including: 

Alabama - Feeding the Gulf Coast
California - Center for Ecoliteracy
Colorado - Livewell Colorado
Illinois - Seven Generations Ahead
Iowa - Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children
Kansas - KC Healthy Kids
Maine - Healthy Communities of the Capital Area
Minnesota - Minnesota Department of Education; Reviewing the Countryside
Montana - Montana Office of Public Instruction
Nebraska - Center Rural Affairs
Nevada - Urban Roots Garden Classrooms 
Ohio - Cuyahoga County District Board of Health
Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania Department of Education
Rhode Island - Farm Fresh Rhode Island
Vermont - Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets
Virginia - Fairfax County Public Schools
Wisconsin - WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection 

National Farm to School Network is also excited to be the recipient of a grant, which will allow us to offer 10 unique experiential learning opportunities in conjunction with our 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 20-24, 2020. Save the date! We hope you'll join us and take advantage of this unique opportunity to see innovative farm to school efforts in action and network with farm to school stakeholders from across the country! 

This year’s grants are recording breaking - both in total number of projects supported and total amount of funding awarded - thanks to increased discretionary funding from Congress through appropriations bills for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. But, this increased funding is temporary. Annual mandatory funding for the program is only $5 million. The extra boost of appropriations funds allowed USDA to awards 52 more grants this year than the previous highest year of 2016, when 74 were awarded. It’s important that we continue to advocate for a permanent increase in funding for this highly valuable program so more communities can access these important resources, grow new programs, and experience the benefits of farm to school. 

That's why the National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are working with a bipartisan and bicameral group of Congressional champions to strengthen this important grant program and support other farm to school priorities with the Farm to School Act of 2019. The bill, sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), David Perdue (R-GA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), will expand funding for and programmatic scope of the highly successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program, including: 

  • Increasing annual funding to $15 million and increasing the grant award maximum to $250,000,
  • Advancing equity by prioritizing grants that engage diverse farmers and serve high-need schools, 
  • Fully including early care and education sites, summer food service sites & after school programs, and 
  • Increasing access among tribal schools to traditional foods, especially from tribal producers. 

Your voice is crucial in this advocacy work! Take 2 minutes to add your name to our petition and/or our organizational sign-on letter in support of the Farm toSchool Act. Have an extra five minutes? Make an even greater impact by calling your members of Congress and asking them to co-sponsor this bill. Find step-by-step instructions and a call script for calling your members of Congress here.   

The USDA Farm to School Grant Program is an essential tool to improve the health of our children, our food system and our local economies. Join us in calling on Congress to continue and expand its support for this highly impactful program! 


National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.

Farm to School Act of 2019 Introduced in Congress

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 27, 2019

Farm to school activities have been proven to help students build healthy eating habits and support family farmers by expanding market opportunities. Today, a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders demonstrated their support for growing farm to school programming across the country by introducing the Farm to School Act of 2019 (H.R. 3562, S. 2026). The bill, sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), David Perdue (R-GA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), will expand funding for and programmatic scope of the highly successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program. 

The USDA Farm to School Grant Program provides funds on a competitive basis to schools, farmers, nonprofits, and local, state and tribal government entities to help schools procure local foods – including fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, dairy and other products – for school meals and to support farm to school activities like farm field trips, hands-on science classes and new food taste tests. Since making its first awards in 2013, the program has received more than 1,900 applications requesting over $141 million in support. With only $5 million in mandatory funding available annually, the Farm to School Grant Program has been forced to turn away roughly 80 percent of qualified applications. The Farm to School Act of 2019 would allow more impactful projects to be realized by:
  • Increasing annual funding to $15 million and increasing the grant award maximum to $250,000.
  • Advancing equity by prioritizing grants that engage diverse farmers and serve high-need schools. 
  • Fully including early care and education sites, summer food service sites & after school programs. 
  • Increasing access among tribal schools to traditional foods, especially from tribal producers. 
Read our full press release here.
Learn more about the Farm to School Act of 2019 here

Organizations that have endorsed the Farm to School Act of 2019 include the National Farm to School Network, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Heart Association, FoodCorps, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Education Association, National Farmers Union and Union of Concerned Scientists, among others.

The USDA Farm to School Grant program was originally funded as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 - the last Child Nutrition Act reauthorization (CNR) to pass. This was a major victory for the farm to school movement, as it was the first time federal legislation specifically mandated funding and support for farm to school efforts. Since the creation of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, we’ve seen high interest in participating from communities across the country, and have heard many stories of how the program has helped launch new farm to school activities. We’ve also heard your feedback on how the program can be improved and expanded to continue supporting equitable and sustainable farm to school efforts. Earlier this year, we hosted a CNR Listening Session Series to capture your thoughts on policy issues like this in order to directly inform our CNR priorities. The specific policy changes proposed in the Farm to School Act of 2019 are the results of your shared feedback. 

The Farm to School Act of 2019 and the Kids Eat Local Act (also recently introduced) are two important bills that can strengthen farm to school in the next CNR. Federal policy like CNR is so important because it helps ensure that farm to school efforts aren’t a fad, but a long-term, viable strategy for ensuring the health of our nation’s kids, farms and communities. But federal policymaking can be slow moving. You may recognize that this is not the first time congressional champions have introduced a Farm to School Act - it was also introduced in 2015 and 2017. While there’s no guarantee that CNR and these bills will pass in this Congress, it’s imperative that we’re prepared to advocate for the priorities that are important to the farm to school movement. 

We need your help. Policy advocacy takes all of us, and your voice is critical in this process. Here’s what you can do today to help.  

Organizations: If you represent a school, nonprofit organization, business or advocacy group interested in supporting farm to school in the next CNR, please add your organization’s name to our organizational sign-on letter to Congress, expressing your support for the Farm to School Act of 2019 and the Kids Eat Local Act. Sign-on here

Individuals: Are you a parent, teacher, farmer, concerned eater? Sign-up to stay up-to-date on important individual action opportunities coming this summer. Add your name to our list and will let you know how you can support these important federal policy opportunities. Sign-up here

Learn more and stay engaged: Education and engagement are two of the most important factors in making our collective advocacy efforts effective. Help prepare for our big CNR advocacy push coming this summer:
Work for a government agency or university and cannot lobby? You can still make a difference! While you can’t make specific policy asks, you can (and should!) share general information about farm to school in your state and how the USDA Farm to School Grant Program has been successful. Sharing information is not lobbying - it’s education, which all of us can do! Any of the educational engagement opportunities above are a great way to be involved in CNR. 

Have questions about CNR or want to learn more about how you can be a farm to school policy advocate? Contact Chloe Marshall, Policy Specialist, at chloe@farmtoschool.org.

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.

"Kids Eat Local Act" Introduced in Congress

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 13, 2019

Institutional markets represent some of the most lucrative and dependable options for America’s family farmers and ranchers – unfortunately, they can also be among the most challenging to break into. The Kids Eat Local Act (H.R. 3220, S. 1817), introduced today by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Josh Harder (D-CA), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), would help to break down barriers between school food purchasers and family farmers by simplifying local purchasing guidelines for school meal programs.

By including the Kids Eat Local Act in the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization, schools would be given a new, easier to use local product specification option through which they could specify “locally grown,” “locally raised” or “locally caught” in their procurement language, and then make the award to the lowest bidder who can meet that product specification.The addition of local product specification would substantially improve opportunities for local producers by providing more flexibility for school districts. The Kids Eat Local Act would also allow schools flexibility in determining the definition of “local” that best suits their needs.

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition thank the bill sponsors in both the Senate and House for introducing the Kids Eat Local Act and paving the way for increased healthy food in schools and new economic opportunities for local farmers. We urge all members of Congress to support this simple, yet significant change and look forward to continue working with our partners and allies as this bill and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization move forward.

Read our full press release here.
Learn more about the Kids Eat Local Act here.

National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the 2019 Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.

New Policy Handbook for Farm to School Advocates

NFSN Staff Thursday, June 13, 2019


Farm to school legislation is a key strategy for making local food procurement, school gardens, and food education a reality for millions of children, farmers, and communities across the country. That’s why state farm to school policy, alongside statewide farm to school networks and state-supported farm to school positions, is one of the three core strategies National Farm to School Network prioritized in our 2017-2019 Strategic Plan to help partners advance and strengthen the farm to school movement in their states. We’re excited to share a new resource to help partners and advocates in these efforts: the State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018

Co-authored by the National Farm to School Network and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School, the State Farm to School Policy Handbook summarizes and analyzes every proposed farm to school bill and resolution introduced between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2018, from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. It enables users to search bills by both jurisdiction and topic, and includes analysis of trends, case studies, advocacy resources and more.

What’s new in this edition? 
The State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018 builds on a survey that was originally released in 2011, and updated in 2013, 2014 and 2017, and was previously called the State Farm to School Legislative Survey. New features in this edition include: new research, with farm to school policies from the U.S. territories; new scope, taking a targeted look at legislation that explicitly advances the core elements of farm to school; and, a new name, which better describes the robust content – including case studies, best practices, analysis and more – available in this resource. 

What are the highlights? 
Between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2018:
  • 46 states, DC, and one territory have introduced legislation supporting farm to school activities. 
  • 453 bills and resolutions were introduced. Of those, 209 passed.   
  • The most common bill type has been one that provides funding for farm to school - 119 such bills have been introduced. These bills include annual appropriations, permanent funds, and other revenue streams. 
  • 25 states have passed comprehensive farm to school legislation, which includes funded grant programs, funded coordinator positions, or funded local procurement incentives. 
  • Best practices for structuring strong legislation include securing sustained funding, identifying the motivation behind the bill, and establishing an evaluation process. 


How can advocates use the Handbook? 
The time is ripe to leverage relationships and advocate to expand farm to school through state legislation, and the State Farm to School Policy Handbook is a valuable tool you can use to approach policy in ways that makes sense for your state. Whether your state is still working to pass its first farm to school legislation or ready to expand, you can use this Handbook to gain knowledge of the wide variety of farm to school policy options that exist and find inspiration and models that can be adapted to meet your states needs. The Handbook also allows you to compare your state’s farm to school laws, policies and programs to those of other states. And, check out the five case studies that analyze successful farm to school advocacy efforts and compare how different states have tackled farm to school policy opportunities with different approaches. These case studies provide a great snapshot of the stories and partnerships behind successful policy efforts – use them as a spark of inspiration to motivate your next policy idea! 

State-level farm to school policy work is driving a broader expansion of farm to school across the country. Simply put, strong laws facilitate strong programs. The State Farm to School Policy Handbook is designed to offer farm to school advocates like you a roadmap to learn about and compare existing, potentially replicable state farm to school laws, policies and programs in order to advance new legislation in your state. So dig in, and start exploring the opportunities! 

Have questions about this new resource or need a thought partner on how to connect with your state lawmakers? Don’t hesitate to contact our Policy team for support! We look forward to hearing how your advocacy efforts continue to grow the farm to school movement, state by state.

The State Farm to School Handbook: 2002-2018 is co-written by National Farm to School Network and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School (CAFS). This project is funded by the National Agricultural Library,
Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Starting the conversation: House hearing on child nutrition programs

NFSN Staff Tuesday, March 12, 2019
 
By Chloe Marshall, Policy Specialist

On Tuesday, March 12, the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services within the House Education and Labor Committee held the first hearing of the new Congress on child nutrition programs, what could be the first hearing in preparation for the next Child Nutrition Act reauthorization (CNR). The “Growing a Healthy Next Generation: Examining Federal Child Nutrition Programs" hearing focused on the importance of these programs, including farm to school and how it helps children succeed in school and life.

Key topics discussed by committee members included the impact of nutrition programs on children’s access to food, regulatory challenges that school nutrition staff face, and the urgency of addressing children’s health early in life.

Witnesses included Dr. Eduardo Ochoa, the Principal Investigator for the Children’s HealthWatch Little Rock site at Arkansas Children’s Hospital; Cheryl Johnson, Director of Child Nutrition & Wellness for the Kansas State Department of Education; Donna Martin, Director Of School Nutrition Programs for Burke County Public Schools in Waynesboro, GA; and Nikki Berlew O’Meara, mother of two and member of Moms Rising. Witnesses were asked a number of questions ranging from how they’ve been navigating new nutrition standards to their thoughts on whole and flavored milk for children.

While no specific questions about farm to school were asked during the hearing, Rep. James Comer (R-KY) and Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) acknowledged the positive impacts farm to school has made in their home states. "As a farmer myself, I understand the importance of supporting local farmers by providing school access to local farm fresh ingredients,” said Rep. Cormer. In introducing Ms. Martin, Rep. Allen noted that he's visited Burke County schools for farm to school events on several occasions. "In fact, as a member of Congress, I've never missed that event and never will - obviously you can tell, I love good food!" he said. "I've seen first hand students growing their own food there - it's incredible."

As part of her testimony, Ms. Martin shared several ways that farm to school has been an important part of child nutrition programs in Burke County. "I'm incredibly proud of our farm to school program that provides farm fresh produce to our students. We found that when we started offering local fresh produce - like collards, berries, peaches - our fruit and vegetable consumption rates doubled,” Ms. Martin said. “We are fiscally sound because we offer seasonal fresh produce. We work with the Burke County farmers to provide local fruits and vegetables at very competitive prices. I've had local farmers beating down my door to set up contracts with me. In the school nutrition world we call this a win win win - a win for the farmer, a win for the kids, and a win for our local economy.”

Donna Martin shares testimony during the "Growing a Healthy Next Generation: Examining Federal Child Nutrition Programs" hearing.
While several representatives expressed concerns about how burdensome nutrition standards seem to be for schools, Ms. Martin noted that Georgia successfully implemented nutrition standards through farm to school activities: “If kids taste it, they will eat it. If kids grow it, they will eat it. If kids cook it, they will eat it. It's all about getting kids involved, and you have to do nutrition education.”

In closing the hearing, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) noted that with child nutrition programs, "Congress has consistently recognized through bipartisan support that a quality education includes making sure that every child has access to healthy and nutritious food." She specifically named farm to school as one of the programs that helps make this happen.

National Farm to School Network was pleased to hear praise for farm to school in the hearing. It’s a promising sign of opportunity for the farm to school movement as this critical legislation is developed. Additionally, the positive response to farm to school signals recognition of the important role it plays in the success of all of the other child nutrition programs.

While CNR is intended to be reauthorized every five years, it has been nearly 10 years since the last reauthorization. Known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the last (and current) CNR has provided monumental support for the farm to school movement by legislating the creation of the USDA Farm to School Program, which provides annual competitive grants and technical assistance to help schools, farmers, non-profits, state agencies and other entities implement and expand farm to school activities across the country. Since the first grants were awarded in FY 2013, demand for the highly successful program has been more than four times higher than available yearly funding. Opportunities to make the program accessible to more communities with an increase in annual funding is one of the policy initiatives the National Farm to School Network is exploring as we prepare for this next CNR.

What other ways can the next CNR support your farm to school efforts? We want to know! Join one of our upcoming CNR Listening Sessions, beginning March 19, to share your thoughts and ideas for our future CNR policy initiatives. And, make sure you’re subscribed to our e-newsletter to receive updates and action alerts as the CNR process continues.


The National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.

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