Funding committee hears Farm-to-School funding bill
Friday, June 23, 2017
The Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee listened to testimony Wednesday about Oregon’s popular Farm-to-School program.
The program, created in 2011 by the Legislature, awards grants to school districts to purchase Oregon food products and to develop agriculture- or garden-based educational activities. In 2015, the Legislature expanded it to include a grant program based on the number of lunches served by school districts during the previous school year under the United States Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program.
The program has been generally viewed as successful, but the cost of continuing it is more than $5 million. Testimony about House Bill 2038 demonstrated the program’s popularity with the agricultural community and anti-hunger stakeholders alike.
“Oregon is a leader in the Farm-to-School movement,” a statement from the Oregon Farm Bureau said. “These programs provide positive educational and health outcomes to Oregon students. In addition, much of the funding provides healthy, local food to schools. OFB has long promoted the use of domestic and locally produced farm products in Oregon's schools and supports efforts to maintain this program.”
Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon also showed support.
“Farm-to-School benefits kids who eat nutritious meals at schools and learn about where food comes from,” testified Matt Newell-Ching, public affairs director for the group. “Many schools have integrated nutrition and vocational education with their Farm-to-School programs. It also benefits Oregon agriculture by connecting farms and producers with schools. It's a win-win and deserves to continue.”
Many other stakeholders, including La Grande School District, testified in favor of the bill.
The future of the bill is uncertain. Although the policy is roundly considered good, funding remains an issue this session. It is unclear if the Legislature will choose to prioritize funding this program over others. OSBA will monitor the bill.