NSAC's Blog


Hungry for a Better School Lunch?

April 26, 2010


ACTION ALERT!

You Can Help Put Local, Fresh and Healthy Food on School Lunch Trays

Call Your Senators and Representative Today!!

For many of America’s children, school lunch is the most important meal of their day— making up a third of their daily nutritional intake. As rates of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes skyrocket, we must reexamine what shows up in school lunches and explore ways of ensuring healthier, locally-grown foods are served to our nation’s children.

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. And we’re happy to report that we’re making progress!

  • In the House, Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) has introduced the “Farm to School Improvements Act” that will provide $50 million in mandatory funding for the Farm to School program to be used for competitive matching grants and technical assistance program to help schools access local foods.
  • Senator Leahy (D-VT) has introduced the “Growing Farm to School Programs Act” (S.3123) that would likewise provide $50 million in mandatory funding for the Farm to School program to be used for competitive matching grants and technical assistance program to help schools access local foods.
  • The Senate Agriculture Committee has also taken a good first step by passing its version of the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization bill and has included all of the language from the Leahy bill plus $40 million for the Farm to School Program. And there was a tentative commitment from Committee leaders to try to come up with $10 million more, to get to the full $50 million, by the time the bill goes to the Senate floor. (House Education and Labor Committee mark-up is still pending.)

Unfortunately, the Senate Agriculture Committee has also voted to pay for part of its overall $4.5 billion funding increase for school meal programs by cutting $2.8 billion from a critical conservation program—a program that supports environmental stewardship on farms, including beginning and minority farmers and organic farming and organic transition.

What You Can Do:

1. If your Representative hasn’t yet agreed to join the 23 co-sponsors (see list below) of the Farm to School Improvements Act (H.R. 4710) introduced by Congressman Holt, please call them and urge them to cosponsor.

2. If your Senators aren’t among the 17 Senators (see list below) who have already joined as co-sponsors to Growing Farm to School Programs Act (S.3123) introduced by Senator Leahy, please call them and urge them to cosponsor.

3. Ask both your Senators and Representative to pay for increases in child nutrition and Farm to School funding fairly. Healthy kids and healthy food require healthy soil and clean water! Funding should come from closing tax loopholes not from conservation.

It’s easy to call. You can get your Senators’ and Representative’s name and direct number by going to Congress.org and typing in your zip code. Or call the Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask for your Senators and Representative by name.

Background

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.

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.

  • 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
  • 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.

Co-sponsors of the Growing Farm to School Programs Act (S.3123)

Introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Michael Bennet [D-CO]
Sherrod Brown [D-OH]
Robert Casey, Jr. [D-PA]
Richard Durbin [D-IL]
Al Franken [D-MN]
Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY]
Tom Harkin [D-IA]
Amy Klobuchar [D-MN]
Patrick Leahy [D-VT]

Jeff Merkley [D-OR]
Patty Murray [D-WA]
Bernie Sanders [I-VT]
Charles Schumer [D-NY]
Jeanne Shaheene [D-NH]
Arlen Specter [D-PA]
Debbie Stabenow [D-MI]
Jon Tester [D-MT]
Tom Udall [D-NM]

Co-sponsors of the Farm to School Improvements Act (H.R. 4710)

Introduced by Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ)

Tammy Baldwin [D-WI2]
Earl Blumenauer [D-OR3]
Allen Boyd [D-FL2]
Russ Carnahan [D-MO3]
Kathleen Dahlkemper [D-PA3]
Lincoln Davis [D-TN4]
Keith Ellison [D-MN5]

Rush Holt [D-NJ12]
Henry Johnson [D-GA4]
Steve Kagen [D-WI8]
Marcy Kaptur [D-OH9]
Patrick Kennedy [D-RI1]
David Loebsack [D-IA2]
Mike McIntyre [D-NC7]
Kendrick Meek [D-FL17]
George Miller [D-CA7]
Frank Pallone [D-NJ6]
Mike Ross [D-AR4]
Janice Schakowsky [D-IL9]
Robert Scott [D-VA3]
Joe Sestak [D-PA7]
Heath Shuler [D-NC11]


Categories: Action Alerts


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