This guest blog was written in partnership with the National Farm to School Network (NFSN). NFSN works to increase access to local food and nutrition education to improve children’s health, strengthen family farms, and cultivate vibrant communities. Learn more about NFSN’s work at: https://www.farmtoschool.org/
At the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic schools shut down and with it, a lifeline for many children to the major source of nutrition in their diet: free and reduced school breakfasts and lunches. The crisis that ensued shone a spotlight on a topic that advocates, families, and policymakers have been working on for decades: farm-to-school procurement.
For advocate organizations and state policymakers, farm-to-school policy is a key tool to better support local farmers and producers while feeding children healthy and nutritious meals and directing state dollars into the local agriculture economy through a variety of methods.
In Oregon (2019 OR HB 2579) state legislators expanded the eligibility of applicants to the state’s farm-to-school grant program to include more local producers and in Michigan (2019 MI SB 927) policymakers expanded their 10 cents per meal program to reimburse schools for local food purchasing.
Nationally, policymakers are working with grassroots advocates and communities to make farm-to-school work for their state and communities. Following their State Farm to School Policy Handbook, the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) has compiled state based farm-to-school policy in an interactive new resource that illustrates in real-time the growing awareness, advocacy, and impact of farm-to-school legislation.
The new State Policy Map captures not only farm-to-school and farm to early childhood education policies in current state legislative sessions but also the additional areas of values-aligned child nutrition and food system policies that support healthy kids and healthy communities.
State bills included in the map cover a variety of issue areas including:
- Expanding Access for All Kids
- Farm-to-School/Farm to Early Childhood Education
- Values-Aligned Procurement and Equitable Producer Support
- Scratch Cooking, School Wellness, and Labor
To view what bills are active in your state or territory’s current legislative session, click here. If you are working on or aware of legislation relating to farm to school activities, local procurement or producer support, universal meals, or school wellness policies and would like for it to be included on this map, please reach out to NFSN’s Programs and Policy Associate Mackenize Martinez at [email protected]
If you are a state legislator interested in working on farm to school, or local procurement policy please reach out to the SiX Agriculture and Food Systems Team at [email protected]