September 2017 Policy Update

Kumar Chandran

This post is the first of ongoing policy updates we’ll be doing on federal, state, and local policy related to FoodCorps mission and priorities.

Bipartisan Farm to School Act of 2017 Introduced in Congress

On September 6, a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives introduced the Farm to School Act of 2017. Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) alsooffered similar legislation in 2015.

The bill would:

  • increase annual federal funding for farm to school from $5m to $15m per year,
  • improve participation from beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers,
  • include early care and education, summer meal, and after school programs in the program, and
  • increase access among tribal schools to farm-fresh and traditional foods, especially from tribal producers.

FoodCorps has signed on in support of this bill and will be working with you all and our partners to help build support for

Free School Meals for All Students in NYC

With the start of the new school year in NYC, all students, regardless of the poverty status of their family, are able to get a meal at no charge. Advocates and many city officials had long sought this change, but were finally able to get the policy in place for the start of this school year on Thursday, September 7. NYC joins other large cities, such as Detroit, Boston, and Chicago that offer lunch to all students at no charge. Check out this New York Times editorial covering the policy change as well as the important, positive impact this will have on school lunch shaming.

Progress on AmeriCorps Funding

On September 8, the Senate Appropriations committee approved a bipartisan compromise on a funding bill for federal Fiscal Year 2018 that includes the same level of funds for AmeriCorps as it currently receives. Given that the President’s budget proposal called for eliminating AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service as a whole, this is fantastic news, even though the bill does include some other, smaller cuts to national service. You can read more details here, but this bipartisan action by the Senate Appropriations committee is a major step forward and a testament to the value of national service from across the political spectrum. However, the appropriations process is still ongoing, so our advocacy on this is not yet done. This agreement still needs to pass the full Senate and House, and be signed by the President. We’ll be in touch with updates and opportunities for action as they come up.

Recommended Reading

This interesting New York Times article explores school meals policy prospects during the Trump administration.