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National Farm to School Network

News

Farm to school policy flourishes in 2015

NFSN Staff Monday, December 21, 2015
By Natalie Talis, Policy Associate
Top Left: Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) speaks at the Farm to School Month reception on Capitol Hill; Botton Left: Farm to school advocates gather in Washington, D.C. in April for a day of action; Bottom Right: Donna Martin, Jason Grimm, Karra Hartog, and Jim Stone testify at a House briefing on the Farm to School Act of 2015. 
It’s been a busy year for policy in the farm to school world! Developments in federal, state and local policy have advanced opportunities for the expansion of farm to school activities, while also creating new legislative champions and advocates. Join us in celebrating our 2015 policy successes, and see what’s on deck in 2016: 

Federal Policy in 2015
  • Farm to School Act of 2015: The Farm to School Act of 2015 was introduced in February with bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. We partnered with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to build Congressional support for this marker bill, which currently boasts 44 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and nine cosponsors in the Senate. 
  • Spotlight on farm to school: The benefits and successes of farm to school were mentioned at multiple congressional hearings on the Child Nutrition Act (see here and here). This reaffirms that Members of Congress are hearing from their constituents about the benefits of farm to school in their communities.
  • Partnership with USDA: We collected feedback and worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide input on the new Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. This pilot is a great new opportunity for schools to expand local purchasing of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Support from Members of Congress: National Farm to School Month (October) was an exciting time for policy, with 442 advocates weighing-in on the Farm to School Big Day of Action and six Members of Congress taking to the House floor to celebrate the benefits of farm to school. The month ended with our first ever Capitol Hill reception, which hosted 120 guests, including Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. 
State Policy in 2015
  • 2015 State Policy Report: We released our annual State Policy Report with new graphics, case studies and tools to help support our partners’ state advocacy work. As of the February 2015 report, over 40 states have farm to school related policies.
  • New and strengthened state policies: Many states saw a flurry of policy activity in 2015. Multiple supportive bills passed in Louisiana, Hawaii and Oregon, while other states (like New Mexico) strengthened and expanded their existing farm to school programs. 
Looking to 2016
  • Child Nutrition Reauthorization: The Senate Agriculture Committee has said it will tackle Child Nutrition Reauthorization in early 2016. We remain optimistic that the Farm to School Act of 2015 will be included in this important bill.
  • New priorities areas: The National Farm to School Network will make race and income equity priority policy areas in 2016 by branching into new federal policy territory, including health and education. We know that farm to school activities can positively impact kids in every zipcode, and we're working to level the playing field so everyone can take advantage of farm to school's benefits.
  • Focus on state policy: Our annual State Policy Report will be released in fall 2016 with an expanded advocacy toolkit designed to guide those working on policy at the state level. We’ll dive even deeper into state policy by providing additional technical assistance and resources to further farm to school legislative and regulatory goals. 
As the national policy leader for the farm to school movement, policy is at the core of what we do as a network. In celebrating our 2015 accomplishments, we have you, our network of members and supporters, to thank. Much of our policy success is credited to on the ground farm to school advocates willing to call, email, write letters and visit elected officials so that those in Washington, D.C. can see the importance of farm to school back home.

Here’s to 2015, a year of partnership for stronger farm to school policy, and to 2016 - a year destined for more farm to school success! 

Help us continue our advocacy efforts by making an end of year, tax deductible donation today.


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