Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and David Perdue (R-GA) announced that their bipartisan resolution to designate October 2019 as National Farm to School Month was passed by the Senate unanimously. Farm to School programs across the country increase access to local foods in schools, which helps enhance food education for children while also boosting economic opportunities for farmers.
“Since 2013, schools and non-profits throughout Maine have received funding through farm to school programs to help purchase local food and implement innovative food and wellness lessons for students,” said Senator Collins. “By designating October 2019 as National Farm to School Month, this resolution raises awareness of the importance of providing students with access to local and healthy foods while supporting Maine farmers and our agricultural economy. It also helps build support for legislation to improve and expand these programs, such as the Farm to School Act we introduced earlier this year.”
“One of the best ways to help students make healthy choices is to teach them about their food and how it is grown. Farm to School programs have given children and schools across the country the tools to craft farm-fresh, healthy, and delicious meals that students enjoy,” said Senator Leahy. “Our bipartisan resolution recognizes the important contributions of farm to school programs across the nation.”
“Farm to School programs promote regional food economies, while increasing access to locally grown produce,” said Senator Brown. “As we recognize National Farm to School Month, we must continue to support our farmers and policies that make it easier to fill our school lunchrooms with healthy food grown in Ohio.”
“The Farm to School program connects schools with local farmers and provides hands-on opportunities for kids to learn where their food comes from. Studies have shown that when local food is served in schools, students consume 30% more fruits and vegetables,” said Senator Perdue. “The Farm to School program is an important first step toward improving child nutrition, while also supporting our agriculture community and growing the economy. The Secretary of Agriculture has been a strong advocate for this program, and I applaud Senator Leahy for his bipartisan efforts to get this bill across the finish line.”
This resolution also spotlights the economic and health benefits that come when schools support local farmers. For example, for every dollar spent on local food in schools through the Farm to School program, up to an additional $2, is circulated in that school’s local economy. This resolution has the support of leading national advocacy groups such as the National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
In July, the Senators introduced the Farm to School Act of 2019, legislation to increase the federal resources committed to helping bring fresh, local foods to schools nationwide. Senators Collins and Brown have also introduced the Kids Eat Local Act, which would make it easier for schools to source “locally grown, locally raised, and locally caught” food and farm products for their meal programs.
Click here to read the resolution.