At Farmer Foodshare’s September 26 Speaker Series event, Self-Help’s Policy Director David Beck noted that Congress is currently considering the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR), which authorizes all of the federal child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Food, Summer Food Service, and WIC programs. The last CNR - known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 - was a major victory for farm to school, as it was the first time federal legislation specifically mandated funding and support for farm to school efforts.
In this iteration of the CNR, there are two particular opportunities to expand farm to school work: the Farm to School Act and Kids Eat Local Act. Members of Congress need to be educated about their benefits and the importance of including both in the CNR. In short, both bills would help schools source local food and provide funding for innovative projects like school gardens and seasonal vegetable taste-testing that help kids learn where food comes from. In addition, the Farm to School Act would increase mandatory funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program (See this USDA 7.16.19 release on the 2019 Farm to School grants. Beaufort County schools are a recipient). The Kids Eat Local Act would simplify the process for schools to source locally grown, raised or caught product.
The current pressing need is to build Senate support for these two bills, so reaching out to Senator Tillis and Senator Burr to educate them on these bills is critical. The message is: include the Farm To School Act and the Kids Eat Local Act as part of the CNR will help strengthen NC’s Farm to School program and support small farmers. NFSN (The National Farm to School Network) and NSAC (the National Sustainable Ag Coalition) are leading educational efforts in Washington.
Locally, the North Carolina Alliance for Health and CFSA (the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association) are both excellent resources. Lastly, Self-Help sends out a weekly email, Sustainable Food Systems News Update, on Friday afternoons. Those interested can click here to sign up. Folks can also email David Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org