For immediate release
Contact: Katie Mularz 504.452.6975, firstname.lastname@example.org
Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Last week, the Louisiana Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development moved The Louisiana Farm to School Program Act forward to the State House of Representatives. If passed, this bill will support the development of successful farm to school programs in Louisiana schools, from the increased use of fresh, local foods in the school cafeteria to the integration of hands-on learning in the classroom.
The Louisiana Farm to School Program Act would require the creation of a state farm to school program, administered by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and implemented collaboratively by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Louisiana Department of Education in consultation with various stakeholders. Implementation would include the development of a Louisiana Farm to School Handbook to provide guidance and resources to schools and farmers to promote the use of local and regionally sourced foods in school nutrition programs.
SB 420 addresses many of the most common barriers to serving locally sourced foods in schools, such as through its proposed development of specific farm to school standards for school food safety and providing an inventory of small and large farmers in the state so that schools may initiate those relationships more easily.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Francis Thompson, faced no opposition and was crafted with support from the Louisiana Farm to School Alliance and Gov. John Bel Edwards office.
“Senate Bill 420 is good for Louisiana children and Louisiana farmers because it supports farm to school programs. Farm to school programs improve access to local foods in schools-which in turn boosts farm income and economic opportunities-while fostering experiential food education for our children,” said Katie Mularz, Executive Director of the Louisiana Farm to School Alliance.
According to 2015 USDA Farm to School Census results released this March, 33% of Louisiana school districts participate in farm to school activities, impacting roughly 288,083 students. The Louisiana Farm to School Program Act, in providing essential infrastructural support for farm to school initiatives, encourages the continued growth of this vibrant statewide movement to the benefit of students, farmers and communities across Louisiana.