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Texas PTA Legislative Update – Farm Bill

Posted by Texas Education on July 16, 2008

Texas PTA Legislative Update – Farm Bill Passes Both U.S. House and Senate

After months of delays and contentious debate, the Farm Bill passed Congress a few weeks ago. The final version of the Farm Bill included several provisions related to the school nutrition programs, several of which are described below:

Public School Nutrition Programs Will Be Winners

  • Expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs – The bill increased funding from $9 million to $70 million a year, with the program available in 35 elementary and secondary schools in each of the 50 states. The bill also allows additional schools to be added in proportion to the student population of the state.
  • Purchases of Locally Produced Foods – The bill eases bidding restrictions for school districts trying to acquire locally grown foods. With this new language, school nutrition programs could use geographic preference in procuring locally grown items. This change should help expand participation in farm to school programs.
  • Grain Pilot Program – The legislation allocates $4 million to establish a pilot program in 125 schools in 6 states. The program will provide whole grain products to participating school nutrition programs for use in the reimbursable meal programs.
  • Purchases of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Distribution to Schools (Department of Defense (DoD) Fresh Program – The Farm Bill raises the amount of money allocated for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables to $50 million a year for the next 5 years.
  • Survey of Foods Purchased by School Food Authorities – Under this legislation, $3 million is allocated to periodically survey school nutrition programs to examine what types of food they purchase.
  • Healthy Food Education and Program Replicability – $10 million is authorized for a 5 state pilot program that makes grants available to “high-poverty” schools for school garden initiatives. The bill also encourages the USDA to sponsor projects that promote nutrition education and can be replicated in schools.
  • “McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program – The bill increases funding for the program, which provides food assistance to school nutrition programs in developing nations, to $300 million. This is a significant cut to the initial $840 million allocated in the original House version of the bill.

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