February 22, 2010
Hungry for a Better School Lunch?
CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE AND URGE THEM TO CO-SPONSOR REPRESENTATIVE HOLT’S FARM TO SCHOOL IMPROVEMENTS ACT!
For many of America’s children, school lunch is the most important meal of their day — making up a third of their daily nutritional intake. As rates of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes skyrocket, we must reexamine what shows up in school lunches and explore ways to get healthier, locally-grown foods served to our nation’s children.
As a way to get healthy food grown by local family farmers into school lunches, NSAC is urging Congress to include $50 million in mandatory funding over the next five years for the national Farm to School program as part of the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization scheduled for action this year.
THIS WEEK Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) will be introducing legislation to fund the Farm to School program with $50 million. Additional original co-sponsors are critical to ensuring that the Holt Bill is included in the Child Nutrition Act. Please call or fax your Representative’s office and ask them to co-sponsor.
It’s easy to call. You can get your Representative’s name and direct number by going to Congress.org and typing in your zip code. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard, provide your Representative’s name and be directly connected to their office: (202) 225-3121. Once connected to your Representative’s office ask to speak to the aide that works on child nutrition.
The message is simple. “I am a constituent of ________ and I am calling to ask him/her to co-sponsor Representative Rush Holt’s “Farm to School Improvements Act” that will provide $50 million in mandatory funding for the Farm to School program as part of the Child Nutrition reauthorization.”
The Farm to School Program would provide one-time competitive grants to schools or non-profit organizations to develop purchasing relationships with local farmers, plan seasonal menus, start school gardens, develop hands-on nutrition education, and provide solutions to infrastructure problems including storage, transportation, food preparation, and technical training.
The Farm to School grant program was authorized in the 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, but USDA has never requested any funding for the program. Congress now has an opportunity to fund this important program when it reauthorizes the Child Nutrition Act in 2010.
Congressman Rush Holt (the Representative of New Jersey’s 12th congressional district) will introduce a bill this week to make improvements to the authorization for the Farm to School program and, most importantly, provide the $10 million a year in mandatory funding ($50 million over the five year life of the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization). Co-sponsoring this important legislation is an excellent opportunity for other legislators to show support for Farm to School.
Farm to School initiatives around the country have demonstrated that Farm to School is a win-win-win for children, schools, local communities and farmers — providing abundant reasons why this initiative should be available to schools throughout the country:
• The choice of healthier produce options in the school cafeteria through Farm to School results in children consuming more fruits and vegetables, leading to lifelong improvements in their diets;
• Schools report a 3 to 16 percent increase in school meal participation when farm-fresh food is served, bringing more school lunch funds to the schools;
• Working creatively with local producers, some schools have found ways to save money while supporting local agriculture by purchasing locally;
• The transaction from Farm to School keeps dollars in the local economy, strengthening local economies and creating jobs;
• Schools provide an important new market opportunity for small and mid-sized family farmers and ranchers.