Farm to School & ECE Support in New Pandemic Relief and FY 2021 Spending Bill
In a late-night sprint on Monday, Congress passed a combined bill of $900 billion in coronavirus relief aid and $1.4 trillion in spending for fiscal year (FY) 2021. While the need for economic, nutrition, and public health relief is far greater than the scope of the relief provided, it nevertheless contains some wins for farm to school and farm to early care and education (ECE), and much-needed funds for our farmers and communities.
Highlights of the COVID relief measures include:
- Relief for CACFP providers, replacing 55 percent of the total reimbursement funding lost for each claiming month from April 2020 to June 2020, plus half of March 2020.
- A similar relief measure for schools participating in federal Child Nutrition Programs.
- Expanded Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) to all income-eligible children under six years old.
- Relief funding for a number of local food systems programs, and reduction of the matching funds requirements (note: unfortunately this does not include the Farm to School Grant Program) and measures to better tailor direct agricultural payments to specialty producers.
The FY 2021 spending bill also contains a number of big wins for farm to school and farm to ECE:
- The highest-ever level of funding for the Farm to School Grant Program – $17 million total!
- $500,000 allocated for a regional institute to disseminate farm to school and ECE research and technical assistance.
- $2 million in Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funding for farm to ECE work.
- Robust funding for other CDC programs promoting nutrition and addressing racial health equity, such as $63 million in funding for the Racial and Ethnic Aspects of Community Health (REACH) grants, of which $22 million is set aside for Native communities.