Ecotrust is joining a diverse coalition of partners to endorse maintaining Oregon’s Farm to School Grant Program. For nearly two decades, Oregon has been a national leader in farm to school programs that deliver proven benefits to students, food producers, and communities. Now, along with coalition leader Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network and partners including Portland Public Schools, Come Thru Market, CAPACES Leadership Institute, Oregon Head Start Association, Oregon School Nutrition Association, and a number of Oregon producers, Ecotrust urges the Oregon Legislature to maintain its $10.2M investment in the impactful Farm to School Grant Program. At its current level, the grant program enables schools to purchase healthy, local foods; provides students with a culturally relevant food system curriculum; and supports communities that rely on strong local food systems and local schools during times of crisis.
Oregon’s Farm to School Grant Program has been recognized as a win-win-win for kids, farms, and communities:
- Healthy, local foods in school meals, summer meals, and Head Start Programs are critical for Oregon kids, especially those suffering from food insecurity.
- Hands-on learning in school gardens supports student health and well-being, connecting them to nourishing food and their local communities. Educational grants support hiring educators who reflect the demographics of the students they teach. And the food system curriculum offers instruction about traditional agricultural activities and includes the critical role of farm workers.
- The impact of farm to school funding is multiplied for Oregon farmers and Oregon communities. In 2020, for every $1 invested by the legislature in Farm to School Grant Program funds, schools spent $5 on Oregon foods. For every $1 schools spent on local food, $2 was returned to Oregon’s economy. And the program advances equity with competitive grants for schools to prioritize purchases of products from businesses owned or operated by Black, Indigenous, or people of color; women; veterans; or tribes.
- The Grant Program also supports equipment and training support for Oregon producers to meet school needs and increase their capacity to sell to other institutions.
In 2019 the Oregon Legislature voted to expand the Farm to School Grant Program to a historic $15M. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, those funds were threatened. After a statewide effort that activated dozens of partners and enlisted support from schools, food businesses, and advocates from across the state, Oregon legislators voted to allocate $10.2 million to the program.
Standing at $10.2M, this investment will provide much needed economic relief and recovery. And it will put healthy foods on the plates of Oregon students, especially those facing food insecurity exacerbated by high inflation and supply chain challenges.
For the first time the Farm to School Grant Program was included in the Governor’s Recommended Budget, however at a 23.5 percent reduction. The Education Subcommittee of Ways and Means will be making critical decisions about the level of funding for this program, and its multiplier effect for the Oregon economy, in the coming months. Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network will be the leading voice for our coalition of support at the state capitol. Between now and June 2023, we encourage any Oregonian who wants the state to maintain its care for our kids, economy, and communities, to contact your legislator with your message of support. Find out more at Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network.
Ecotrust creates and accelerates triple-bottom-line innovations to benefit our region and inspire the world. Our work is rooted the region from California to Alaska that holds productive lands and determined people. On the farm, at the coast, in the forest, and across our cities, we work in partnership towards an equitable, prosperous, climate-smart future. We recognize the legacy of colonialism and the deep inequities of this place, and we believe that radical, practical change is possible and necessary. Since 1991, we have created durable change and sparked ideas across the globe. Join us at ecotrust.org.