Farm to Cafeteria Legislation

Do you favor legislation allowing funding for the Farm to Cafeteria initiative?

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  • No

    Votes: 0 0.0%

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Joined May 14, 2001
Hi all.

Below please find the Farm to Cafeteria Legislation Fact Sheet, created by the Community Food Resource Coalition, which lists ways you can lend your voice to a very worthwhile cause, The "Farm to Cafeteria Projects" Act. The Act introduces food straight from local farms to schools, while creating a market for the farmer.

If enacted, these bills (S. 1755 in the Senate and H.R. 2626 in the House) would provide $10,000,000 annually for grants of up to $100,000 to school districts or non-profit organizations to create farm to cafeteria projects.

You can reach your Senator or Representative's office via the Capitol
Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or find their contact information at and

If you would like these documents as an attachment, please "PM" me and I will be happy to send them.


The reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act offers a timely opportunity to link nutrition and agriculture policy to improve children's health and benefit family farmers.

The "Farm to Cafeteria Projects" Act, known as S. 1755 in the Senate and H.R. 2626 in the House, creates a win-win situation: students eat healthy foods straight from the farm, while farmers not only expand their markets, but also become more involved in their communities. Senators Patrick Leahy
(D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) recently sponsored S. 1755, and Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ron Kind (D-WI) sponsored H.R. 2626.
If enacted, these bills would provide $10,000,000 annually for grants of up to $100,000 to school districts or nonprofit organizations to create farm to cafeteria projects. This one-time infusion of resources requires a 25% match of funds or in-kind contributions. The Community Food Security Coalition is working with legislators and partner organizations to build support for both "Farm to Cafeteria Projects" Acts. Already, H.R. 2626 has over thirty bipartisan cosponsors, and S. 1755 has two.

YOU are an essential part of the legislative process. Here's how you can
1) Contact your U.S. Senator's office, and ask for the staff person in charge of child nutrition. Tell him or her that you support providing kids healthy food from local farms, and ask that your Senator co-sponsor S. 1755, or the "Farm to Cafeteria Projects" Act .
2) Contact your U.S. Representative's office, and ask for the staff person in charge of child nutrition. Tell him or her that you support providing kids healthy food from local farms, and ask that your Representative co-sponsor HR 2626, or the "Farm to Cafeteria Projects" Act. You can mention that this bill has received bipartisan co-sponsorship by more than thirty Representatives.
You can reach your Senator or Representative's office via the Capitol
Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or find their contact information at and
When you call, consider scheduling an appointment with your legislators while they are back in your state this winter!
If you would rather write a letter, please either fax it to the DC office or mail it to a district office within your state. Mail coming to Congressional office buildings in DC is first irradiated, so it takes more time to reach your legislator.
3) Place an op-ed in your local newspaper. Find a sample op-ed at
4) Publish this Fact Sheet in your newsletter, web site, or in other forms of communication.

NEED FOR THE FARM TO CAFETERIA INITIATIVE The development of life-long eating habits begins during childhood. By encouraging children to eat healthy foods, they have a better chance of avoiding serious illness later in life, such as heart disease and diabetes.
The "epidemic of obesity" has become a national crisis. More than 25% of Americans under 19 are overweight or obese _ a number that has doubled in the last 30 years.
Less than 13% of school-age children eat the USDA recommended amount of fruit, and 20% eat less than one serving of vegetables.
While the health of our nation's youth related to diet is declining, the health of America's independent farming sector is also declining. These facts are less well-known:
Of all occupations in the U.S., farming is facing the greatest decline. It is no longer listed as an occupation in the U.S. census, as farmers comprise less than 2% of the population.
The farmer share of the food dollar has dropped drastically from 41 cents in 1950 to less than 20 cents of every dollar in 1999.
1) Initial capital expenses such as cold storage facilities, food preparation equipment, salad bars and other kitchen improvements.
2) Initial additional labor costs, for researching the location of regional farms and crop availability, menu planning based on regional products, and staff training.
3) Experiential nutrition education linking local agriculture to healthy diets through hands-on activities such as school gardens, visiting local farms, and field trips to farmers' markets.

In California, in an elementary school of 500 students, only 5-10 students were choosing the salad bar with produce purchased through conventional means. When the produce was purchased directly from farmers, the average number of students choosing the salad bar increased to 120.
The farmers in the New North Florida Cooperative began selling collard greens to thirteen schools in one county. Six years later, they sell to fifteen school districts in three states and serve 300,000 students annually.
The New York State Legislature has established an annual NY Harvest for NY Kids week that connects students to agriculture through visits to farms and farmers' markets, farmers in the classroom and other hands-on activities.
In the Maine Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils Program, elementary school children experience the cyclic nature of agriculture, while learning how their food choices effect their own health, the farmers and the environment.
Students also participate in every aspect of the cycle of food production from compost formation, planting, harvesting, and recycling back to the soil.

"The most valuable benefits of the Farm to School Project are to the kids in our schools. We are building relationships between school children and the whole food system, from farm to cafeteria. All of us are learning where food comes from, how it is grown, and how important New York agriculture is to our quality of life."
Ray Denniston, Food Service Director, Johnson City Consolidated School District, New York "This is a great way to diversify and stay in business."
Michael Nash, farmer, GROWN Locally Cooperative, Postville, Iowa "The students are understanding more about nutrition, but they're also planting vegetables, seeing how food is served - and then they're composting the leftovers. It helps kids see that we're dependent on agriculture and can keep the cycle going."
Clark Bryant, Principal, Pioneer Elementary School, Davis, California
"The salad bar rocks."
6 year old student in the Ventura School District, Ventura, CA

For Additional Information, Please Contact the Community Food Security Coalition:

Sarah Borron
Policy Associate
110 Maryland Ave NE, #307
Washington, DC 20002
[email protected]

Marion Kalb
National Farm to School Director
P.O. 363
Davis, CA 95617
530-756-8518, Ext. 32
[email protected]

Thomas Forster
Policy Director
110 Maryland Ave NE, #307
Washington, DC 20002
[email protected]

Talking points for Farm to School Legislation


> Farm to Cafeteria projects link farms and schools to bring locally-grown food into the school lunch program. Across the country, these projects range from salad bars filled with goods from the farmers market, seasonal items incorporated into lunch menus, school gardens teaching children how to raise healthy food, and tastings of different kinds of apples, tomatoes, and other foods.

>Bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate provides $10 million annually in "Assistance for Farm-to-Cafeteria Projects," which creates a competitive seed grant fund to create new programs. These one-time grants cover the initial costs of a Farm to Cafeteria project, including:
o storage and cutting equipment
o staff time and training
o educational and promotional materials

> The legislation is entitled the Farm to Cafeteria Projects Act. In the Senate, the bill number is S 1755, and lead sponsors are Sen. Patrick Leahy
(D-VT) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). In the House, the bill number is HR 2626, and lead sponsors are Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI).

What Distinguishes Farm to Cafeteria

> Local Focus:"Farm to Cafeteria" focuses on bringing locally-grown food into school cafeterias around the country. Local food is typically the freshest possible, and it highlights what foods are grown in a region.

> One-Time Funding: The grants provide the resources to create financially self-sufficient, long-term Farm to Cafeteria projects.

> Experiential Nutrition Education: Students learn where their food comes from by visiting farms, growing gardens, and seeing educational displays with their food. This education has been shown to have a direct effect on kids' healthy food choices.

> Win-Win Benefits for Kids, Farmers, and Communities*: Not only does Farm to Cafeteria encourage children to eat healthy, it also benefits independent, typically small-scale farmers. Purchasing directly from local farmers generates more money in the local economy and strengthens community ties.

Support for Farm to Cafeteria

> Over 270 organizations across the country have endorsed S. 1755. The groups represent nutrition, school, anti-hunger, farm, consumer, and faith-based constituencies.

> Thirty-four Representatives have co-sponsored H.R. 2626, and three Senators have co-sponsored S. 1755.

Background on CFSC's Participation

> Policy Advocacy*: The Coalition pushed for the expanded "Assistance to Community Food Projects" and "Purchase of Local Foods" in the recently passed Farm Bill, programs which won wide support in Congress for being programs from which both low-income consumers and farmers benefit.

> Farm to School Expertise: CFSC's national Farm to School Program published "Healthy Farms, Healthy Kids: Evaluating the Barriers and Opportunities for Farm to School Projects"--a comprehensive summary of best practices and policy needs from projects across the country. CFSC's work with communities and schools illuminated the need for a grant program to start Farm to School projects.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I think it's just more wasteful meddling.

The government has never shown itself to be an effective or efficient education, management or distribution tool. As such, it should be the object of last resort for such programs.

It will cost more than 10M. As I read the proposal, 10M was for grants only. There was no inclusion of staff, offices, and such to run this operation. It won't just magically happen on its own.

This seems to be a general fund thing so it has no specific funding of it's own. In these budgetary times, that's bad policy. Wasteful.

It's so small of an effort that it fails on equal access issues required by the government. 100 schools, that's all the grants there are, 2 schools in each state, perhaps. 125000 for a school to build a habit of farm fresh food. 180 days in school, asumming they served lunch everyday is just under 700 a day for lunch for a few hundred to a few thousand kids. A few bucks to just some cents. Plus the time for going through fresh produce and selection, and the additional prep (cost of labor). I don't believe this would be attractive to the school's, nor would it be effective at a general level.

You're only affecting 1 meal a day not even including snacks. In the psychological building of habits, this is not significant.

Now, what about the cost of raising the required $25K matching funds. How much is really left to the school to work with?

Propaganda. What constitutes a farmer? With the rise of corporate farms and ranches, and their employees, yes the family farm is disappearing. But this is no evidence of a lack of well grown foods at the local level. Corporate farms exist everywhere and may participate in this too. There is no prohibition of it.

There is no link that this produces less obese people. Salad in and of themselves are nutritionally nuetral. What toppings, dressings, and fat content do you end up with in the final salad. A salad bar is nutritionally uncontrolled. Most people overdress their salads unhealthily. For the other foods, how are they prepared and handled? Collard Greens are traditionally served with a good chunk of fat (the recipes in my cookbooks average about 1 1/2 teaspoons saturated fats per serving). This makes them healthy?

The success stories don't show concrete results in the target population. The kids.

The bigger problem in school eating is that it is a government dump house for government subsidized foods disproportionately produced and of low food quality. This program doesn't change that.

Shroomgirl here shows the power that one person can have locally in driving this. Much less expensive but more effective than what this proposes. People need to get involved because they want to change things. The government is a poor vehicle for this.

I voted no on the poll.

Joined May 14, 2001
As you probably expect, phatch, I disagree.

The grants are intended as startup capital for local organizations such as the Chef's Collaborative, Slow Food, The Leopold Center and Food Routes (among countless others) to do the work. Is it a drop in the bucket? Perhaps, but it's a bucket that desperately needs filling.

1 meal a day? Well. in many schools it's 2, but the point is that what the schools are doing now is filling the kids stomachs and heads with factory-made, processed, chemical-laden crap and vending-machine cans of refined sugar.

This is the message which that sends to kids: "eating this stuff is OK with the people who say they care about you (your parents, your teachers and your government)." Meanwhile we teach them in health class not to eat the stuff, AND the schools get funding from vending machines that are literally making the children sick. This is rampant hypocrisy, designed to raise a generation of consumers, not a generation of citizens.

The funding this bill provides may not be much, but it's a lot more than is currently going toward this kind of work, and it is urgently needed.

So, if you are accusing me of throwing money at the problem, I plead guilty. Give me something else and I'll throw that, too.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I wasn't expecting to change your mind. I even agree that school lunch has issues. This just doesn't strike me as a good solution.

I certainly agree that local groups would be more effective and efficient too.

But there is no need for a federal effort. That's always been letting the camel's nose into the tent. In this case a greedy underfunded camel with too much reach.

Even the dietary guidelines the government issues are dictated to a degree by various food groups and manufacturers more than by good health.

Seems to me there's a better chance of success without the government involved and for less money too.

I'm just happy to discuss things and I strive to remain civil.

Joined May 14, 2001
Right on. Well, you're right that fed money often has too many strings, and fed strings = big corporate strings. But there is no doubt that the money has to come from somewhere, and needs to be a broad, organized, concerted effort. Remember what the man said about "If anyone ever tells you it's not about the money..."

So let's discuss alternatives. My little organization does pretty well here, but it is very small, very limited in hat it can achieve all alone. What are the other ways we can achieve thew goal of having schools (and for that matter, people in general) procuring more susatinable food locally?


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
The first thing to do would be to do it through private schools. I say this for a couple of reasons.

First there's so much baggage attached to public school lunches that the program is essentially unbreachable as is.

The private schools have more flexibility.

It can be sold to them with a marketing slant to their parents. It's resellable in this case. The general public seems not to view this as something worthwhile.

There's more money available in private for such things and I percieve their parents and students to be more interested in these sorts of things than the general population is.

It scales well with private schools as a start up. Fewer schools, no equal access issues and such.

Once established, its easier to move to the public schools as the program is big enough to show to everybody. There's a local reference to show what it actually is like right where they are, not just NY or CA or FL.

This is a growth kicker IMO. Private schools tend to work with the kids of more influential people and have ties there. This means you're more likely to be influencing local policy makers and building inroads into the system providing leverage to bring the program to the public schools. When they see its value, they'll help fight for it in public schools.

Thus the funding is developed locally with the interest and education custom tailored to the local foods and cultures.

A quick look at failure modes. Interest and funding can kill a program of course. If that program dies in the public eyes it is much harder to resurrect a new and improved program from its ashes. Its tainted in the public opinion. If it dies in private with just a private school or two, the visibility us much much lower. So its easier to try again with the insights the failure brought.

In starting such a program, there should already be a variety of grants available, especially if conceived as a non-profit. Grant-writing is an interesting thing. I'm acquainted with a local polynesian group that has historical ties to a plot of land in the west desert. They have been developing this land non-profit with various grants individual parties have pursued with the government. The incentive is that for any successfully written grant, the author(s) get to keep a percentage of the grant for their efforts. Various national representatives from the community often help in steering this pork into the barrell.

My opinion. I'm not in either education or food business, but this is the approach I would take.

Joined Aug 11, 2000
I've waited to weighin on this....I agree with both of you and some of your points....Absolutely monies are important , I reviewed a grant that asked for $1million to run a pilot in 6 schools that had more fresh sruits and veg, worked in a garden, had stellar staffing.
Chef's Collaborative nad SlowFood are not vehicles for dthese grants....possibly a couple of chapters of CC but Slow Food is a volunteer group that runs a few programs a year here. Elsewhere ther may be more activity but again it is volunteer. Believe me I founded the local chapter of CC here and the participation is wonderful but it is a plug in situation not long term work for the members. National is pulling back and just running information these days....Rick hurt the organization greatly.
Most monies go to RD's...oh man, as a whole they are something else. I've read grants that have a child connecting to a garden that involves a school bus ride and the contact with soil is like 3-4 times a year...that is not ownership.
Running programs that are underfunded is a drag you are always trying to earn money while working the project....gets old.
So how do you connect a community to local sustainable farmers....well start an educational farmer's market run by chefs that educate the public on where their food comes from and how to cook it....enlist the media's help and consider it a life long project. Keep it clean of anything that resembles a broker flea market and line up some good fiscal support to pay the soul that runs it. <shoot if you'd like hire me and I'll consult with your group>
Specifically teaching children how to classes in your gardens...pull out the burners, cutting boards, knives and cook. run them in afterschool programs, camps, outside classes in cooking schools. Teach multigenerational so that everyone learns.Fund an administratior and let them line up chefs to put in their time and rally around it.
Make sure food shows know your demos to crowds and use local food. Dop farmer/chef dinnners, get your farmers involved in promoting their products to the community, most times they just don't have a platform. So you've just recieved the condensed version of the past 6 years of my life....would I do it again? absolutly, would I do it differently , hind sight is 20-20....there were plenty of learning I think the 10millin is a good thing NO, not in the way it is worded.
Joined May 14, 2001
Of course the bets example of gardens in schools is Alice's Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley .

But this legislation was designed to get local farm produce into the schools, encouraging school sysytems to buy more food locally, etc. If the feds can do something to encourage people in China to buy American products, then they can do something to get Iowans to buy Iowan products, Houstonians to buy Houston products, etc.

BTW< I agree about Rick and CC. Too bad. They must have dangled a mess of money in front of him. My jaw just dropped the first time I saw that BK ad - like a spear through my heart. Ah, well. Subject for another thread.
Joined Mar 2, 2002
Based on Phatch's ideas, I'd be interested to see some info on the current nutritional profiles of average public school attendees versus average private school attendees.

If many students attending private school are more well off, as Phatch seems to be asserting (and as seems to be true), doesn't it also follow that those students already enjoy other benefits that come with belonging to such a demographic - such as better teeth, better overall nutrition, etc?

Why start with the seemingly better off ? "Trickle down" nutrition? If that concept takes as long as "trickle down" economics does to work, I don't think we are looking at an overall solution any time soon.

Obesity is a problem that affects all walks of life. But it is pretty well documented as a particularly dire situation for the under-priveledged - the folks who usually don't attend private schools.

My friend has a ten year old neice who is overweight. She is a public school attendee. How long is she supposed to wait before some imaginary private school/rich people thing reaches her?

If it was that easy, Kenny G would be more popular than hip hop.

Joined May 14, 2001
This bill has passed the house!!! On to the Senate!!! :talk: Talk to your Senator!

More info here :bounce:


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I was targetting the private schools not because they stand to benefit the most, but for economics.

Even as a non-profit, you must consider your target market. Public Schools are far more regimented and limited in what they can and can't do. They have worse manpower shortages to run and coordinate the program with their lunches and teachers for outings. More likely to succeed privately first. With a demonstration of success, your "sales" get easier. And you must face the fact that this is very much about selling to get new schools into the program. Even though it's a food program, it must be sold to the customers, the schools.

Public schools are a terrible market.

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