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How HB 2038 Will Make – Or Break – Oregon’s Farm to School Programs
Today is a very special day. Not only is it Valentine’s Day and Oregon’s birthday, but there was a hearing for a piece of legislation that is loved by farmers and families across the state: House Bill 2038, The Oregon Farm to School Bill.
The concepts were first introduced in 2007, but this is the bill that will provide funding for schools to carry out the program and buy food produced or processed in Oregon – roughly $0.05 per lunch. The bill also includes nearly a million dollars in grants to give schools the resources to install and teach with school gardens.
This legislation has a number of positive impacts.
- Kids learn about where their food comes from and how it’s grown
- They get more clean, local options in the cafeteria
- Learning about and sampling local foods inspires a preference for fresh, healthy food during formative years
- Local farmers and producers are assured of steady demand for their products – some studies estimate that buying local has a multiplier effect of 1.4 - 2.6 throughout the local economy
- Community and connection is built between urban and rural populations
Oregon leads the way when it comes to Farm to School in the US. According to the 2015 Farm to School Census conducted by the USDA, 42% of school districts nationwide participate in farm to school activities – a far cry from the 100% we’ve achieved here! Nationally, 40% of schools participating in farm to school programs sourced milk locally, but in Oregon that number is 58% and growing.
Oregon was also the first state to appoint Farm to School coordinators in both the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Public School System, guaranteeing support at the institutional level. Currently, our districts spend, on average, 27% of their budget on local products to the extreme benefit of students and local producers.
Still, the maintenance and growth of the program depend heavily upon continued funding. Activities like buying local, building school gardens and immersing kids in local agriculture deliver enormous benefits, but these outcomes cannot be achieved without a monetary investment on the part of the state.
It’s rare to see legislation with such widespread support, but The Oregon Farm to School Bill gets a lot of love. If you feel strongly about this program, you can get updates on HB 2038 via email or RSS feed at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/HB2038. Want to take action? Contact your state legislators to let them know where you stand.
Northwest Honda knows that it takes time for healthy habits to take root, so we’re doing our best to support farm to school programs and local agriculture. We hope you’ll join us and help make these initiatives and their benefits a reality for kids all over Oregon.