Minnesota lawmakers say yes to farm-to-school funding

Also in this week’s K-12 legislative update: A Connecticut bill that would set up a child nutrition outreach program has been approved by lawmakers.
Students taking fruit in the cafeteria
Farm-to-school programs in Minnesota could be getting a financial boost from the state. | Photo: Shutterstock

Farm-to-school programs in Minnesota are one step closer to getting a financial boost after a bill that would put forth funding for farm-to-school programs cleared the House. Over in Connecticut, lawmakers have approved legislation that would set up a child nutrition outreach program to bolster school nutrition programs in the state.

Here’s the latest in school nutrition legislation.

Minnesota Farm-to-school programs get a financial boost

Lawmakers in the Minnesota House have approved a bill that includes funding to expand farm-to-school programs in the state.

SF 4942 earmarks $100,000 to go toward increasing the amount of local ingredients in school meals and early childhood education centers. A portion of that funding will also be used for a farm-to-school grant program.  

Farm-to-school initiatives continue to grow throughout the country. Last summer, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded 103 farm-to-school grants through its Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program. The USDA estimates that the grants reached approximately 2,791 schools and more than 1.2 million students.

At the state level, Pennsylvania just announced it is opening applications for its farm-to-school program. This year, the state is awarding $500,000 in farm-to-school grant funding and schools can apply to receive up to $15,000 to go toward eligible farm-to-school projects.

In addition, New York recently announced the recipients of its round one funding for its Regional School Food Infrastructure Grant Program. The program aims to support school nutrition programs’ efforts to improve cafeteria kitchens and create meals from scratch using local ingredients. The state will award $50 million in grant funding over five years to eligible applicants through the program.

As part of the round one funding, Buffalo City School District and Champlain Valley Educational Serviceswill each receive $5 million to go toward expanding their local offerings.

A child nutrition outreach program could be coming to Connecticut

A bill in Connecticut that would set up a child nutrition outreach program in the state has passed both the House and Senate.

HB 5003 would direct the state Department of Education partner with the office of Early Childhood to oversee the program, which would work to encourage schools to participate in programs like Breakfast After the Bell, which offers students the option to eat breakfast later in the morning at school.

In addition, the program would promote school summer feeding sites and would also establish a grant program for summer feeding.

If signed into law, the bill would go into effect in July.

All public school students in the state currently receive free school breakfast and students who qualify for reduced-price meals receive free school lunch. The state is providing the free meals using funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The funding is due to run out at the end of the school year, however, and schools will have to revert back to charging for meals in the fall.

See which states currently offer universal free meals via the map below:



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