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National Farm to School Network


Paper Plates, Partnerships & Proclamations: 2016 Farm to School Policy Successes

NFSN Staff Tuesday, December 20, 2016

By Natalie Talis, Policy Associate

As the national policy leaders for the farm to school movement, policy is at the core of what we do as a network. With only a few days left in 2016, we’re celebrating this year’s policy successes, and planning for a busy 2017.

2016 Victories 
  • Farm to School Act of 2015: Farm to school advocates scored a major federal victory with the draft Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR). Key Democrats and Republicans supported farm to school throughout this process. Both the Senate Agriculture and House Education and Workforce Committee versions included important policy changes from the Farm to School Act of 2015, and a doubling of USDA Farm to School Grant funds from $5 to $10 million annually. Although CNR was not completed in this Congress, we are in a strong position moving forward for future farm to school federal policy wins. We will continue working with our coalition partners and fellow advocates to ensure we don’t lose this forward momentum.  
  • Paper Plate Campaign: This fall, we delivered more than 550 paper plate messages of support for farm to school and healthy school meals to members of Congress. We launched this paper plate campaign at the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in June, and continued to collect plates from our members and other farm to school advocates at the Farm Aid 2016 concert and by mail. Thank you to all who participated and made your voices heard! 
  • Partnership with USDA: We continued to work with USDA on the implementation of the Unprocessed Fruit and Vegetable Pilot by collecting and disseminating feedback from partners in the eight pilot states. 
  • Proclamations and Pilots: Governors in Arkansas, Hawai’i, Minnesota, Nebraska and Rhode Island all made proclamations for Farm to School Month in October. Michigan and New York passed pilots providing schools with additional reimbursements for purchasing local foods. Louisiana passed a comprehensive farm to school policy building off their 2015 policy successes, and Arizona is making strides in reforming their food safety codes. 

2017 Opportunities
  • Farm to School Act: We will reintroduce our bipartisan marker bill in the new Congress and continue to build champions for these important policy changes and additional funding. 
  • Farm Bill Preparations: We will continue to host stakeholder listening sessions on Farm Bill programs and funding to ensure this comprehensive piece of food and farm legislation is best serving farm to school efforts across the U.S. 
  • State and Local Policy: Stay tuned for major updates to our State Policy Report, including a new user-friendly format and tools. We also look forward to the many state and local policy initiatives in the works.

It’s been a busy year for policy at all levels of government. With each of these victories, we continue to institutionalize farm to school so that all communities, in every part of the country, can benefit. Thank you to all those who participate in the policy process, whether interacting with elected officials, sharing your stories, or raising awareness in your community. None of these accomplishments would been possible without your efforts. We are constantly uplifted knowing that you - farmers, partners, educators, food service professionals, students, and more - are passionate and committed to growing healthier local food systems that support and benefit all. We are grateful to you, and are proud to be your partners in this important work. 

Here’s to 2016, a year of partnership for stronger farm to school policy, and to 2017 - a year destined for more farm to school success! 

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