This week, Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett (D-VI) joined her House colleague, Congressman Marc Molinaro (R-NY), to introduce the Farm to School Act to get more fresh, locally grown foods in schools across the nation. The bill would expand the Farm to School program for school-aged children by making significant investments, and it notably increases the funding for the program from $5 million to $10 million.
“The increased demand for Farm to School programming tells us that more people are beginning to understand the connection between local foods and healthy young minds. Through the Farm to School Grant Program, participating schools, nonprofit organizations, and local, state and tribal governments can help schools offer locally grown, fresh food to students,” said Congresswoman Plaskett.
“The Farm to School Act is a blueprint for nourishing our children and invigorating our local economies. Since its inception, the program has channeled more than $52 million into projects across all states and territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, benefiting nearly 21 million students in 47,000 schools. This act not only broadens access to nutritious, locally sourced meals for millions of students but also provides a much-needed economic lifeline to our small and socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and fishermen.
“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation alongside Congressman Molinaro in support of our nation’s schools and local farmers who help improve classroom diets and local economies; a bill that closely aligns with our collective mission: to build a healthier, more equitable future for all,” said Plaskett.
Sommer Sibilly-Brown, founder and executive director of the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition said, “Farm to School is not a cure-all for the things that plague our communities as it relates to the inequalities in our food system. However, it’s [helpful]. Farm to School increases access to healthy food for our youth, supports the small farmer and the local food economy, increases the opportunity for knowledge transfer to students with new mediums for applied learning and strengthens communities.
“In the Virgin Islands, I personally see Farm to School as a pillar of building a more resilient food system; the money and support infused in our community through the federal dollars committed to farm to school bolsters our food economy and supports reduction of imports., said Sibilly-Brown.
“Farm to school and farm to early childhood activities can address some of the most important issues facing communities—children’s mental and physical health, local jobs and economies and educational engagement, to name a few. The Farm to School Act of 2023 will expand access and increase sustained funding so this critical grant program reaches even more projects across the country,” said Karen Spangler, policy director with the National Farm to School Network (NFSN).”
Hannah Quigley, policy specialist for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), said, “Farm to School programs nationwide are strengthening local food economies, providing nutritious foods, and promoting a culture of health among students. The Farm to School Act of 2023 responds to the growing demand of cafeteria managers and farmers [who] want to provide high-quality, locally produced foods for their students. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition applauds Representatives Plaskett and Molinaro for their commitment to investing in healthy communities.”
Congressman Molinaro (R-NY) also shared, “The Farm to School program is a win-win for farmers and students. It provides more economic opportunities for local farmers and ensures a steady stream of fresh, nutritious food in our schools. I am proud to expand the impact of this program by making additional investments.”
The Farm to School Act of 2023 is supported by the National Farm to School Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Click here to follow the progress of H.R. 6308.