First public hearing for Farm to School Bill (HB 2800) set for 8 a.m., Thursday, April 2nd
Release Date: 04-01-2009

Farmers, school food professionals, food manufacturers, health professionals and economists will gather in Salem on Thursday to urge the Oregon Legislature to invest in farm to school and school garden programs statewide and stimulate the state’s economy in the process. The Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network, a statewide coalition of more than 100 organizations and individuals representing government, community-based, non-profit, and for-profit sectors, is championing a bill this legislative session HB 2800) that (a) takes full advantage of the school lunchroom as a viable marketplace for Oregon agriculture and (b) provides students with a place – beyond paper cups – to plant a seed and watch it grow.

HB 2800 will stimulate economic development opportunities and create jobs in the state of Oregon

For every meal served, HB 2800 will provide schools 15 cents per lunch and 7 cents per breakfast expressly for Oregon food purchases. Through allocating $22.6 million in lottery funds during the 2009/2010 fiscal biennium, the bill would generate a significant return on investment back into the Oregon economy, boost tax revenues and create as many as 477 jobs per year.The investment would catalyze new local purchases by schools, would bring new federal funds into the Oregon economy through a federal match requirement and have a significant economic multiplier effect within the state economy.

Recognizing a critical need to improve children’s knowledge about, and attitudes toward, agriculture, food, nutrition and the environment, this bill also helps create food literate, lifelong healthy eaters by providing vital hands-on food and garden-based education. HB2800 creates a fund to support agriculture-, food- and garden-based education programs through mini-grants, which schools and districts may apply for through the Oregon Department of Education.

Testimony in front of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Communities Committee will include an analysis of how one urban and one rural school district – Portland and Gervais – used a philanthropic investment of $66,193 during a 14-week farm to school pilot program to catalyze $225,869 in local food purchases. In doing so, the two districts provided new income to local farmers and food manufacturers, created jobs, boosted tax revenue and increased the variety of fruits and vegetables consumed by children, many of whom are on the free and reduced price meal program.

Presentations on the economic analysis of the pilot farm to school program will underscore the degree to which a small investment will generate a large economic stimulus for the state economy.

Lawmakers will hear testimony from:

  • Deb Lippoldt, Growing Gardens
  • Susan Barker, Beaverton School District
  • Jim Rowan, Astoria School District
  • Peter Truitt, Truitt Brothers Inc., Salem
  • Farmer Jeff Rosenblad, Happy Harvest Farm, Mt. Angel
  • Gail Langellotto, Oregon State University
  • Kathy Berry, Youth Grow, Reynolds School District
  • Dr. Adriana Voss-Andreae, OHSU Center for the Study of Weight Regulation
  • Patti Whitney-Wise, Oregon Hunger Task Force
  • Deborah Kane, Ecotrust’s Food & Farms program
  • Dr. Sarah Kruse, Ecotrust

A work session will be scheduled at a later date to vote on passing the bill out of committee.

WHEN: 8 to 9 a.m., Thursday, April 2, 2009

WHERE: State Capitol, Hearing Room D

WHY: This represents a strategic investment in the state’s agricultural sector, which represents 10 percent of the of the state’s economy.

HB 2800 creates the environment to learn lifelong healthy eating habits for our children.

HB 2800 leverages state and federal school food dollars to maximize local impact.