September 22, 2010
Urge Your Representative to Move Forward Now on
Farm to School Funding in the Child Nutrition Bill!
Time is running out for Congress to re-authorize the Child Nutrition Act by September 30. The House, unable to come to agreement on how to pay for their bill is now considering simply passing the version passed by the Senate in August, and they could do so as early as tomorrow.
The Senate bill provides less support to the Farm to School Program – just $40 million vs. the $50 million included in the House bill. The most bitter pill, however, is that the Senate bill uses cuts in food stamps to pay for the improvements to school meal programs.
This is likely our last and best opportunity to win mandatory funding for the Farm to School program this year. An investment in Farm to School programs will allow schools to serve fresh and healthy food produced by local and regional farmers. That’s an investment that will pay dividends in improved child health, scholastic achievement and farm and rural economic vitality.
The Senate bill also provides a 6-cent per meal increase in school lunch reimbursements, expands school meal eligibility, and establishes stronger nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools.
Please call your Representatives and urge them to pass the
the Child Nutrition Act.
It’s easy to call. Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code. Click on your Representative’s name, and then on the contact tab for their Washington DC office phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Representative’s office: 202-224-3121. Once connected ask to speak to the aid responsible for child nutrition. If unavailable, leave a voice message. Be sure to leave your name and phone number.
The message is simple. “I am a constituent of Representative ___________ and I am calling to ask him/her to vote yest to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act that includes a strong Farm to School program. Tell him/her that mandatory funding for Farm to School programs is a wise investment in our children and our local and regional farm economy.
If funded, the Farm to School Program would offer 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.
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.
- 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.