Farm to School Legislation on the Rise

According to a new report recently released by the National Farm to School Network (NFSN), no fewer than 37 states passed or introduced bills to support farm to school practices during 2012-2013. The report is further proof of the huge increase in farm to school practices across the country.

Prepared by legal researchers at Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS), the State Farm to School Legislative Survey 2002-2013 provides a summary of each farm to school-related bill proposed since 2002, whether enacted, defeated or still pending. The update revises NFSN’s August 2011 survey and may be viewed here online.

At its heart a grassroots effort, farm to school is the practice of sourcing local food for schools or preschools, as well as providing agriculture, health, and nutrition education opportunities. Interactive, hands-on experiences are integral to farm to school programs and may include school gardens, farm field trips, and cooking lessons. Farm to school practices aim to improve the health of children and communities while supporting local and regional farmers.

“What we see in the legislation is increasing dynamism and synergy between state governments and local food movements, connecting education and agriculture sectors in mutually beneficial partnerships while improving the quality of food available to our children,” said Helen Dombalis, policy and strategic partnerships director for NFSN.

The survey also presents charts categorizing bills by type, making evident themes and differences in state approaches to developing and implementing farm to school programming. In 2013, Alaska and Oregon provided appropriations or grants for farm to school programs; Mississippi established a farm to school advisory board; and Nevada encouraged its schools to participate in a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Other states commended local efforts, established studies regarding the state of agriculture education, and directed purchasers statewide to develop protocols for buying local food.

“This update is a key tool for the farm to school movement, a concise resource of state-level legislation that other states can look to when developing their own policies,” said Jamie Renner, assistant professor and clinical project lead at CAFS.

Today’s food system is complex.

Invest in nonprofit journalism that tells the whole story.

Anyone interested in engaging with farm to school should consider attending the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, taking place in Austin, April 15-18.

For more information about the National Farm to School Network, visit farmtoschool.org or send an e-mail to info@farmtoschool.org.

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

Avatar

Chelsey Simpson, an Oklahoman living in South Brooklyn, manages communications for the National Farm to School Network and writes about food systems. Her side project is a campaign called Just Ask, aimed at increasing local food in restaurants. Her side, side project is baking a better whole-wheat lard biscuit. Read more >

Avatar

Delilah Griswold has a range of experience working in U.S. and international agriculture, including research on the economic and social consequences of international food regimes in Vietnam and the South Pacific and four years spent managing a variety of diversified farms in the U.S. Motivated by the legal and policy challenges she experienced producing direct-sale food, Delilah took a break from farming to attend Vermont Law School (VLS), where she worked as a research associate for Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS), and received her Masters in Environmental Law and Policy (MELP). Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    More from

    School Food

    Featured

    Popular

    ‘Percy vs. Goliath’ Is a Cautionary Tale of Corporate Control in Agriculture

    Christopher Walken as Percy Schmeiser in a still from Percy vs. Goliath. (Photo courtesy Saban Films)

    Roxana Jullapat on the Transformative Power of Baking with Whole Grains

    Roxana Jullapat photo by Kristin Teig.

    Op-ed: How the Pandemic Made it Harder For Immigrants to Access Food

    Food is distributed at the Ebenezer Seventh-day Adventist church on July 22, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The church distributes hundreds of packages of food every Wednesday. While many New York neighborhoods have long depended on charities, food banks and nonprofits to meet their nutritional needs, the Covid-19 pandemic has only multiplied the number of residents experiencing food insecurity. Across the city groups that serve those in need are seeing a huge increase in clients. According to the mayor’s office, an estimated 2 million people are currently food insecure in New York City, which is up from 1 million people before the pandemic. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    Reviving Breadfruit, the Polynesian Staple, Could Nourish People and Fight Climate Change

    Harvesting 'ulu (Photo credit: Hawai'i 'Ulu Cooperative)