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Delgado Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Support Partnerships Between Small Farms and Local Schools

July 27, 2020

Rep. Delgado’s Small Farm to School Act would create a pilot program to incentivize public schools to work closely with local farmers

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) introduced the Small Farm to School Act, bipartisan legislation to incentivize partnerships between small farms and local schools. The Small Farm to School Act would create an eight state pilot program where local public schools would be reimbursed at a higher rate for sourcing school lunches from small farmers under the National School Lunch Program.

"Our family farmers are essential to our way of life in upstate New York, and we should be looking for every opportunity to support our small businesses and farmers, while helping our young people access more nutritious food. Today, I am proud to introduce the Small Farm to School Act which would reimburse schools at a higher rate for sourcing their school lunches from local farms and incentivize partnerships between our upstate producers and public schools to help get more locally grown foods into schools," said Rep. Antonio Delgado, member of the Agriculture Committee. "As our small farmers continue to grapple with both a challenging farm economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, this legislation will help form new partnerships that both assist our small farmers and the health of our young people."

"The Small Farm to School Act creates opportunities for famers to get locally sourced food into the hands of school systems in their communities. Supporting small farms and keeping good food local is a boon to local economies and communities," said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.

"New York Farm Bureau supports efforts to increase access to locally produced food, including this legislation which would provide additional reimbursement for local school districts that purchase New York products. It's a win-win for both farmers who are able to sell their goods to local school districts and for the students who will have fresh, nutritious products to eat. New York has a strong history of assisting schools and farmers with local food purchases and this bill would help build upon those programs," said New York Farm Bureau president David Fisher.

"Now is the right time to invest in school meals and in resilient local food systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has jeopardized 30 million kids' access to the nutrition they get through school meals, child care, and after-school programs. The crisis has also cost farmers who rely on direct market sales to places like schools an estimated $680 million in lost sales," said Karen Spangler, Policy Director of National Farm to School Network. "There's never been a better opportunity to harness the economic boost that local procurement gives our farm communities. We thank Congressman Delgado and Congressman Sensenbrenner for their leadership in recognizing that farm to school offers innovative solutions to help Americans rebuild from the effects of the pandemic."

"The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition applauds Representative Delgado for introducing the Small Farm to School Act of 2020. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many farmers who have relied on school sales were left with large market losses and surplus goods–almost overnight. The Small Farm to School Act is the kind of cross-sector solution that will help rebuild those lost markets and ensure that farm to school programs emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever," saidWes King, Senior Policy Specialist, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

"The Small Farms to School Act creates the framework for a win-win-win model of supporting diversified farms, increasing the economic benefits that those farms provide to their communities, and making fruits and vegetables accessible to underserved communities. The National Young Farmers Coalition commends Representatives Delgado and Sensenbrenner for working to create new markets for small farms, especially during this challenging moment for so many growers," saidSophie Ackoff, Co-Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Rep. Delgado's Small Farm to School Act would create an eight-state pilot program to provide an increased reimbursement rate for school lunches that include a locally-grown, unprocessed food component from a small farm. Specifically, the bill would provide a $0.05-per-lunch subsidy when a component of the meal is sourced from a small, local farm. The cost of the subsidy would be split evenly between the federal government and the participating state. The Small Farm to School Act authorizes $20 million annually for the pilot in eight states.