June 2, 2010
Last Friday, May 28, Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN), Tom Latham (R-IA), and Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the National Farm to School Act of 2010 (H.R. 5456) along with 22 original cosponsors.
The Act would authorize USDA to administer competitive grants of up to $100,000 to support planning, implementation, training, and technical assistance for schools, educational agencies, colleges and universities, nonprofits or governments to implement farm to school programs. The legislation would also direct the USDA to identify existing federal programs that could facilitate the participation of small- to medium-sized farmers in farm to school programs and create an online exchange to share best practices on farm to school programs nationwide.
This bill follows in the footsteps of the Farm to School Improvements Act of 2010 (HR 4710), introduced in February by Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ), and the Children’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009 (HR 4333), introduced by Rep. Farr (D-CA) and Rep. Putnam (R-FL). Whereas the two prior bills included $50 million in mandatory funding, the National Farm to School Act would be discretionary funding, subject to appropriations. Regardless of that key difference, introduction of the bill demonstrates growing support among policy-makers for farm to school programs which can help to provide healthy food in schools while creating a market to support local farmers.
NSAC supports $50 million in mandatory funding for a Farm to School program as part of the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization process. A Senate reauthorization bill is currently pending floor action, and House committee action is expected later this year.