PORTLAND, Ore. – While most school cafeterias are closed for summer break, House Bill 2800, Oregon’s Farm to School and School Garden bill, is still cooking in Salem with the latest endorsement coming from the Oregon School Board Association (OSBA). The OSBA is a statewide association serving more than 1,400 school districts, education service districts, community colleges, and public charter school board members with leadership, legislative, policy, labor, financial, legal, and community relations services.
House Bill 2800 supports local agricultural and food manufacturing sectors by bringing more Oregon grown, processed and manufactured foods into the school lunchroom resulting in economic benefits that span the state. Over the next biennium, Oregon schools will spend $140 million in federal dollars on school food. HB 2800 adds $19.6 million in lottery dollars to their food budget as an incentive to buy exclusively from Oregon farmers and food manufacturers. To access state funds, school districts must spend an equal amount on Oregon foods using National School Lunch and Breakfast funds. The resulting economic impact will be felt due to the immediate investment of at least $39.2 million dollars into rural Oregon and agricultural industries, producing 499 jobs. Included in HB 2800 are grants to schools for garden and farm-based educational programs.
“HB 2800 requests lottery dollars tied specifically to economic development and in no way jeopardizes or competes with any funding for core curricular or education programs,” said David Williams, OSBA’s Legislative and Policy Specialist. “This policy is a win for schools, kids and Oregon’s economy. OSBA is excited to see school cafeterias become marketplaces for local farmers and food manufacturers and a part of the formula for the state’s economic recovery.”
“Every funding scenario being considered for this package returns jobs and millions of dollars to the state’s coffers,” said State Representative Brian Clem (D-Salem). “This bill is about the health of our kids and the economy. It’s very much alive and part of the budget negotiations that are still ongoing in Ways and Means. I feel good about the chances of this bill passing.”
Proponents of farm to school programs have long advocated that the cafeteria is the most underutilized classroom in the school – a place where learning about healthy food and local agriculture can be a multi-sensory, life changing experience. Now, lawmakers have the chance to turn cafeterias statewide into pantries and increase the demand for Oregon products.
From farmers, food manufacturers, and nutrition experts, to moms, kids and school districts, more than 100 individuals, organizations and business have endorsed HB 2800. Among those who have already endorsed HB 2800 are the American Diabetes Association, Kaiser Permanente, the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, Food Services of America, Truitt Brothers, Inc., and numerous other community, school, and industry organizations. A complete list of endorsers for HB 2800 can be found at https://ecotrust.org/farmtoschool/HB2800_Endorsements_March_2009.pdf.
For more information about statewide farm to school and school garden programs visit http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=2648
The Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network is a statewide coalition of organizations and individuals representing government, community-based, non-profit, and for-profit sectors.