Welch, Wyden Introduce Legislation to Improve Child Nutrition
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today introduced the Local School Foods Expansion Act, legislation to improve child nutrition by expanding access to locally-grown, unprocessed fruits and vegetables for school meal programs.
“Farm-to-school programs effectively support our family farmers, reduce energy use, help maintain open land, and provide healthy food and educational opportunities for our students,” said Welch. “This commonsense legislation will expand access to locally-grown, fresh fruits and vegetables to even more schools and communities.”
“No child should be hungry in school—it’s devastating to their health and ability to learn. This bill will help address hunger and improve child nutrition in communities across America, all while supporting local farmers,” said Wyden.
The legislation builds on the success of the Pilot Project for the Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables, which was authored by Welch and Wyden and passed in the 2014 Farm Bill. The pilot project has allowed local schools in eight states to increase the use of fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables in their school meal programs and made it easier for these schools to source fresh foods from local vendors.
The Local School Foods Expansion Act establishes this pilot project as a permanent program and allows participating states and school food authorities to purchase locally-grown, fresh fruits and vegetables with existing National School Lunch Program funds. The legislation also directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand the program in at least 15 states and provides additional funding for its implementation.