UPDATE – the bill passed through the Louisiana House Education Committee Full Senate and House too. Waiting to be signed by the Governor!
Great news! RFC and friends have been pushing Farm to School programs nationally and locally – and we just had another BIG WIN!!
Yesterday, the Louisiana Senate Education Committee moved a Farm to School bill forward that could bring more fresh local food to schools, by allowing them to directly connect with farmers.
LA Senate Bill 184 would increase the “small purchase threshold”, which is the maximum amount of money schools can spend on a contract to buy food items, without having to engage in a lengthy and complicated formal public bidding process with potential food providers. In Louisiana, the threshold is just $25,000, so most school food purchases require formal bidding, and this often prevents smaller-scale farmers, who cannot spend time on detailed paperwork, from selling their food to schools.
Both Marianne Cufone, our Executive Director, and Katie Mularz, our friend and colleague, who is the Executive Director of the Louisiana Farm to School Alliance testified before the Committee in favor of the bill with Sen. Francis Thompson, Chair of the Agricultural Committee, who introduced the bill.
Over sixty-eight percent of Louisiana public school students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. If more fresh food is served in Louisiana schools, it can reach a majority of public school children.
The bill is also a great way to support Louisiana farmers, who are currently missing out on over 40 million dollars a year in sales due to wasted fruits and vegetables that never make it to market. Making new markets – schools – for Louisiana farmers, can help reduce waste of good food, and put it to very good use – feeding our children.
When SB 184 becomes law, Louisiana will join 44 other states and the District of Columbia in championing the Farm to School movement.
This is the first in a series of upcoming Farm to School initiatives. Watch for more news on Farm to School bills moving forward in Louisiana and at the national level!