Written by Sarah Smith, Department of Education
During the 106th Legislative Session, Nebraska State Senator Tom Brandt of Plymouth, Nebraska introduced Legislative Resolution 337. This resolution designates the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee, of which Senator Brandt is the Vice-Chairperson, to conduct an interim study to explore the statewide economic and educational potential of a farm to school program in Nebraska.
This is not the first time the legislature has had such a study. In 2009, Legislative Resolution 42 first explored the potential of a farm to school program. “It has been over ten years since we have examined the possibility of getting high-quality Nebraska grown food in our schools. As a farmer, I welcome the opportunity to get our meat, grain, dairy products, vegetables, fruit, and other foods to our children. As a parent, I look forward to our children knowing where their food comes from and the peace of mind knowing our children are being served highly nutritious homegrown food”, said Brandt.
The Nebraska Food Council- the public policy group working to create a thriving, inclusive and accessible local food system- wholeheartedly supports Legislative Resolution 337 and the convening of a new task force on farm to school procurement and education. America’s school lunch program with its thousands of cafeterias nationwide constitutes the largest ‘restaurant chain’ in the United States. Increasing farm to school activity is, accordingly, is a vital means for strengthening the “Good Life” here in Nebraska- providing a triple win for our children, our farmers and our communities. Farm to school enhances classroom education through hands-on learning related to food, health, agriculture and nutrition. Farmers gain access to increased market diversification and institutional sales. And communities are supported with the creation of jobs and a strengthened local economy.
The interim study will receive input from Nebraska’s various and diverse stakeholders, including agricultural producers, school food service representatives, tribal organizations, agricultural education professionals, representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Department of Education, among others. The study’s resulting report will guide stakeholders on ways to leverage Nebraska’s current farm to school assets and provide strategic recommendations for expansion of farm to school activities, networks and capacity. Look for the task force report to land in time for the 2021 Legislative Session.