New Research Shows Expansion of Farm to School State Policy Nationwide

Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, in partnership with the National Farm to School Network, announced today the release of the State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018. This comprehensive, state-by-state tool summarizes and analyzes every proposed farm to school bill and resolution introduced between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2018, from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. Research for this resource found that 46 states, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands introduced 453 bills and resolutions directly supporting farm to school activities between 2002-2018, of which, 209 passed.

Legislation proposed and enacted between 2002-2018 ranged from funding grant programs and state farm to school coordinator positions, to online directories that connect schools and agricultural producers and local preference laws that encourage local food purchases. Between 2017-2018 alone, 32 states and D.C. proposed 81 farm to school bills and resolutions, passing 25, including funding and appropriations bills, bills that celebrate farm to school, farm to early care and education bills, and farm to school pilot programs.

“The continued growth in proposed and enacted farm to school legislation seen in this research mirrors the expansion of farm to school activities nationwide. State-level policy efforts have been a key strategy for growing and institutionalizing farm to school efforts across the country,” said Sophia Kruszewski, Clinic Director at the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School. “Lawmakers are recognizing the many benefits that local food in school meals, school gardens, and food and agriculture education provide, and are using policy to make these activities available in their communities.”

The State Farm to School Policy Handbook is designed to be a resource for farm to school advocates, policymakers and staff, state agencies, school districts, and others seeking to learn about the wide variety of existing state farm to school laws, policies and programs. The resource enables readers to search bills by both jurisdiction and topic, and includes analysis of trends, advocacy resources and case studies of successful policy advocacy strategies from Hawai’i, Michigan, New Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Vermont.

“Farm to school legislation starts with advocates who are committed to supporting healthy kids, family farms, and strong local economies. While 41 states, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands successfully passed farm to school policy between 2002-2018, gaps still remain in ensuring equitable access to the benefits of farm to school,” said Helen Dombalis, Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network. “Advocates must continue working with legislators to pass comprehensive policy that strengthens and expands farm to school efforts. The State Farm to School Policy Handbook is a roadmap to help move these advocates from ideas into action.”

The State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018 builds on a survey that was originally released in 2011, and updated in 2013, 2014 and 2017, and was previously called the State Farm to School Legislative Survey. The Handbook is a free resource and can be accessed and downloaded by visiting farmtoschool.org/statepolicy. The State Farm to School Policy Handbook is funded by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 

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