Successful Pilot Program, Funded in 2011, Helps Demonstrate Program’s Potential
Salem, Ore., March 7, 2013 – The House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources unanimously passed HB 2649 on Thursday morning. It moves next to the Joint Ways and Means Committee. Senator Richard Devlin (D – Tualatin) and Representative Peter Buckley (D – Ashland), co-chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, listed Farm to School as a “priority add-back” item in the draft budget they released on Monday, so the bill’s prospects in Ways and Means looks good. HB 2649 allocates $5,000,000 in funding to the Oregon Department of Education to make grants to school districts for the purchase of Oregon-grown or -processed products and for food-, garden-, and agriculture-based education. That education can include a wide variety of activities, from chef visits to school gardens to farm field trips, all of which support kids learning about their food and developing healthy eating habits. The 2649-5 amendments, which passed, slightly revised the percentage allocation of funds to food purchasing vs. related educational activities. The new requirement is that a minimum of 80% of all grant funds goes to food purchasing, and a minimum of 10% goes to educational efforts. In the public hearing held on February 21, 2013 the bill was lauded as an excellent economic stimulator, creating farm jobs and paving the way for innovative partnerships between school districts and farmers to feed children healthy foods grown right within their home state. (See attached press release from the 2/21/13 hearing.) In Thursday’s work session, Representatives from Upstream Public Health and the Oregon Department of Education were on hand to answer questions from the committee members. Almost all their questions could be answered with details from the pilot grant program, which passed in 2011, is now running in 11 school districts, and which includes schools purchasing beef, fish, produce, and locally processed foods.
Farm to School Manager