On February 14, 2019 Minnesota state legislators introduced a bipartisan bill supporting farm to school. This was authored by Senator Mike Goggin (R- Red Wing) and Representative Todd Lippert (DFL-Northfield). The bill, House File 811, was supported by several stakeholders including a second grader, a farmer, a child nutrition services director, and a farm to school coordinator.
Sen. Goggin noted, "In my hometown of Red Wing, 50 percent of kids depend on free or reduced-price meals for their lunches. We need good food for those kids to eat. Local foods are fresh and taste better, and kids who get to eat local are much more interested in eating healthy. Those healthy eating habits stick with them for the rest of their lives."
View the press conference below:
What's in the bill?
As introduced, the bill includes establishment of a farm-to-school program as well as appropriating funds. $2 million is appropriated for each year, 2020 and 2021. Of this, $150,000 must be used to establish a farm-to-school coordinator position and 4% to administer the grant program. Administration activities include tasks such as consulting with stakeholders, outreach, grant-writing, technical assistance, training to agriculture producers, and others. The rest of the funds will be used as grant funds for public or private elementary, secondary schools, school districts, or child care providers participating in federal child nutrition programs. Reimbursement will be given to these eligible participants for purchasing Minnesota grown, unprocessed or minimally processed food. Preference will be given to applicants that serve a high percentage of free and reduced-price meals, purchase from socially disadvantage, small or mid-sized producers, and represent a diversity of sizes and geographic locations throughout the state.
Is early childhood included?
Yes, the early childhood population is included as an "eligible recipient" if their child care provider participates in the federal child nutrition program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). This includes center-based programs as well as family child care homes. However, if the child care provider is not enrolled in CACFP they would not be eligible for grant funds.
To read the bill and follow it on its next steps, visit the Minnesota Legislature web page.