Sending Office: Honorable Jeff Fortenberry
As Congress begins the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR), I am writing to invite you to join me in supporting increased opportunities to connect farmers with institutional markets such as schools, by co-sponsoring the Farm to School Act of 2019
(H.R.3562) and the Kids Eat Local Act (H.R.3220). These complementary bills together will help create economic opportunities for our nation’s farmers while also ensuring our children have access to healthy, high quality meals.
Congress first authorized funding to support farm to school competitive grants in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. For the past 7 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm to School Grant Program has proven successful in both increasing
access to local foods in schools and boosting farm income and economic opportunities for farmers in all 50 states. However, demand for the program is more than five times higher than available funding — since 2013, over 1,900 applicants have requested more
than $141 million in grant funding. The Farm to School Act of 2019 would address this need by expanding the program’s scope and impact.
The Farm to School Act will:
- Scale up the impact of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program by increasing both the total grant funding available and the size and scope of funded projects
- Prioritize grant applications that engage beginning, veteran and other underserved farmers, as well as those that serve diverse and high-need student populations
- Expand the program to include early care and education sites, summer food service program sites and after school programs.
- Increase access among Native and tribal schools to farm-fresh and traditional foods, especially from tribal producers.
Schools across the country are eager and ready to put more local food on students’ plates. The Kids Eat Local Act would give schools a new, easier way to procure local food and farm products – substantially improving market opportunities for local farmers
and food producers. The Kids Eat Local Act directly responds to what schools have been asking for: greater flexibility to purchase and serve local food from the farmers right in their own communities.
The Kids Eat Local Act will:
- Bring more local food into school meal and child nutrition programs without raising the cost of school meal programs.
- Reduce burdensome red tape, making it easier for schools to source local food.
- Provide market opportunities for local family farmers, ranchers and fishermen.
Farm to school is a common sense approach to child nutrition that empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities. Growing the reach of the program, as proposed
in the Farm to School Act, only enhances these benefits, while the Kids Eat Local Act allows schools the flexibility they need to implement farm to school more effectively.
I urge you to support these forward-looking pieces of legislation and ensure their inclusion in the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization to improve healthy food choices and educational efforts for children and economic opportunities for farmers.
Member of Congress
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