New Year, New Spending Bills: Your January Policy Brief

Welcome to 2020! We’re starting off our year by diving into new spending bills, upcoming priorities for state legislatures, and our personal vow for 2020. Read on to learn more. 

More federal funding for healthy school meals passes

After months of negotiations and delays, Congress finally passed a package of spending bills for fiscal year 2020, which funds the government through September 2020. The president signed it into law on December 20, narrowly averting a government shutdown. We are pleased to share that Congress successfully rejected the president’s proposal to take away billions of dollars away from school meals, and delivered more funding for programs that connect kids to healthy food in schools. Here are some exciting wins for school food:

  • The final spending bill includes $1 million for the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program. The program provides much-needed funds to organizations that deliver hands-on food education, promote farm to school, and help students grow up healthy. FoodCorps worked with Congress to establish this program in the 2014 Farm Bill, and thanks to advocates like you, we have successfully advocated for this funding stream for the third year in a row. 
  • The spending bill also includes $9 million in additional discretionary funding for the farm to school grants, boosting the total funds available for this highly competitive and successful program. The bill also continues a $30 million investment for school meals equipment grants, funds that help schools purchase equipment—like salad bars, cold storage, and ovens—needed to prepare and serve healthy, fresh foods. It also includes $5 million for school breakfast expansion grants, marking the first time since 2012 that Congress allocated funding for this program, which helps to ensure kids get the nourishment they need to start the school day.

The good news doesn’t stop there—the bill also includes $1.1 billion in funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the agency that runs AmeriCorps. This is a $20 million increase over the previous year’s funding levels. We are pleased that Congress continues to protect and expand national service, and that for the third year in a row, it has wisely rejected the president’s attempts to eliminate vital programs that support communities across the country.

These wins would not have been possible without support from advocates like you! A huge thank you to all of you who took action to protect and strengthen these vital programs that ensure the health and well-being of all children, regardless of race, place, or class.

State legislatures back in sessions, governors’ budgets revealed

The new year means, for many states, that state legislatures are returning to capitols to make decisions that affect your day-to-day life (if you’re curious, find your state’s session dates). Several states have already introduced proposals that impact school food—from farm to school investment and universal school meals to increased time to eat lunch at school. 

In some states, it is also the time of year when governors release their budget proposals. Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom revealed his proposal to allocate $10 million to farm to school programs and $60 million for school meal reimbursement—much-needed investments that would help connect more California kids to healthy food in school. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam also has proposed a $10.6 million investment to help low-income families reduce the costs of school meals in his 2020-2022 budget request. We will continue to monitor policy developments as state legislators move through the legislative process, and keep you updated with opportunities to raise your voice. 

Resolve to take action for healthy food this year

This is our new year’s resolution. Will you make it yours?

2020 is already looking to be a busy year in Washington, D.C., with a presidential election, continued impeachment inquiries, and child nutrition reauthorization on the table. That means there will be lots of opportunities for you to speak out for issues you care about—and your voice can make a big difference! Sign up for our policy newsletters to get the latest news and actions you can take to help schools nourish kids.