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Helping students access ag at school

Helping students access ag at school

Nebraska lawmakers passed the Nebraska Farm-to-School Program Act

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Elementary and secondary school students in Nebraska will have access to local food thanks to a newly passed bill in the state legislature.

Lawmakers voted 48-0 in support of the Nebraska Farm-to-School Program Act on May 20.

The legislation only needs Gov. Pete Ricketts’s signature to become law.

Sen. Tom Brandt introduced the bill in January to address Nebraska’s use of imported food in school programs.

“Here in one of the agricultural powerhouses of the world, we’re hemorrhaging both our tax dollars and our food dollars from our communities and school districts by purchasing out-of-state food to feed our kids,” he told the Lincoln Journal Star in January.

Brandt’s bill calls for the Department of Education to create a statewide farm-to-school program and hire a coordinator to administer it. The Department of Agriculture is tasked with providing necessary support.

The State would allocate about $100,000 annually to operate the program.

The farm-to-school program would go beyond simply ensuring kids are eating local food.

It would also include components to educate students about where the food came from.

“The program may include activities that provide students with hands-on learning opportunities, but not limited to, farm visits, cooking demonstrations, and school gardening and composting programs and that integrate nutrition and agricultural education into the school curricula,” Sen. Brandt’s bill states.

The U.S. celebrates farm-to-school initiatives each year.

In 2010, Congress designated October as National Farm to School Month to recognize the connections kids are making with their community food systems.

Farms.com has contacted members of Nebraska’s ag community for comment on the statewide farm-to-school program.


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