Legislators to the Lunchroom

Friday, November 2, 2012 - 7:00am
Representative Dennis Richardson enjoys a school meal

Since 2006, Upstream Public Health has been working to promote and expand Farm to School and School Garden programs in Oregon.  Farm to School and School garden programs help kids learn healthy food habits that can last a lifetime, and they also support Oregon's farm economy.

In 2011, we advocated for funding for school districts to help with those programs, and we succeeded in passing a pilot program.  (The Request for Applications was just released -- click here and scroll down until you see "HB 2800 Grant," to learn more!)  

In the 2013 Legislative Session, we are working with Representative Brian Clem of Salem to expand the funding from $200,000 for a pilot program to $5,000,000 for a program that could actually reach kids and farmers all across the state.  

To build support for expanded funding, we are working with Farm to School and School Garden supporters statewide to invite their legislators on school visits, to see the actual school food programs and gardens in action.  So far, visits have happened in Eugene (2 different legislators on 2 different visits), Central Point, Corvallis, North Powder, Bend, Sauvie Island, Portland (4 legislators on 2 visits), Lebannon, and Salem.  More are planned and in the works, throughout November and December.  

The Salem visit, on October 31st, featured Representative Brian Clem (D-Salem) Representative Vicki Berger (R-Salem) and Congressman Kurt Schrader, who represents Salem and much of the Willamette Valley and Central Coast in Congress.  Congressman Schrader helped support Farm to School initiatives in Oregon when he was in the Oregon Legislature (1997-2008) and is now on the House Agriculture Committee in Washington D.C., so his interest and support mean a lot to us.  

Grant Community School principal Ralph Wisner, and School Garden Coordinator Brenda Knobloch, along with other partners and some third-grade students, showed us around the vegetable garden and rain garden and showed off their new compost bins. Then we went in (from the rain) to try three kinds of apples at a tasting table in the cafeteria, and to join students for a delicious school lunch.  Thanks to the Salem-Keizer Education Fund and to Ecotrust for their work coordinating this excellent visit!

Newspaper stories about the Salem Visit:

Statesman Journal:  Garden at Grant Supports Cafeteria, Charity

Capital Press:  Farm to School Program Shows Off Benefits

The attached picture of Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point), is from his October 25th visit to Sams Valley Elementary School, hosted by Rogue Valley Farm to School.