First Partner Siebel Newsom Releases Report to Expand Farm-to-School Access Across California

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Planting the Seed outlines a path to expanding equitable, resilient, and scalable farm-to-school programs in California

Recommendations compiled by an advisory committee include proposed funding support for the state’s farm-to-school grant program and scratch kitchen infrastructure in schools, and prioritizing relationships between schools and socially disadvantaged local producers.

SACRAMENTO — Building on her commitment to ensuring California children have the best start in life, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom today announced the release of Planting the Seed: A Farm-to-School Roadmap for Successa report promoting the expansion of farm-to-school programs across California to advance child well-being, equity, economic growth, and environmental resilience.

“Last year, California made history as the first state to establish permanent universal school lunches. Through farm-to-school programs, we are going even further to ensure that children n ‘not only have access to free school meals, but that those meals are healthy, nutritious and locally grown,’ Governor Newsom said.

Access to fresh, high-quality foods can increase students’ fruit and vegetable intake and support children’s physical health, while hands-on experiential learning opportunities like gardening and cooking serve to improve academic and to support the overall development of the child. Farm-to-school programs allow students to learn about the relationships between food systems and the environment.

“Schools play a crucial role in feeding California’s children and communities, with school lunch recipients consuming nearly half of their daily caloric intake through school lunches alone,” said first partner Siebel Newsom. “plant the seed is a roadmap to strengthen the state’s school food systems, nourish children’s minds and bodies, and cultivate a healthier, fairer, and climate-friendly California for all.

School meals are essential sources of nutrition for children and an important tool for improving food access and nutrition security for children and their families, especially in communities of color. During the pandemic, about one in four low-income families in the state relied on food from schools to cover food shortages. Nationally, people of color are more likely to experience food insecurity, hunger, childhood obesity and diabetes in both rural and urban communities.

“California, which produces more than one-third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts, is well positioned to improve the health and well-being of children through expanding farm programs. at school,” the California Department of Food said. of Agriculture and Agriculture (CDFA) Karen Ross.

Farm-to-school programs promote economic growth in local communities through local sourcing and encourage regenerative and climate-smart agricultural practices.

plant the seed outlines specific recommendations to advance the expansion of farm-to-school programs across the state, including:

  • Allocate funds to expand farm-to-school programs that encourage and prioritize fair and climate-friendly sourcing.
  • Invest in school food quarries and scratch kitchen infrastructure to ensure school nutrition teams can prepare delicious, nutritious, locally sourced meals.
  • Developing optional models of K-12 food education standards to help students understand the impact of food on health, culture, biodiversity and climate.
  • Strengthen relationships between schools and producers to improve equity in the food system and promote regenerative and climate-smart agricultural practices.
  • Expand and create inclusive access to school food markets for a wide range of California growers, especially small- and medium-sized growers, Black, Indigenous, or growers of color, and growers who use regenerative and climate-smart agricultural practices.
  • Invest in evaluation and research, and develop an annual farm-to-school census in California.

Today’s announcement follows the state’s investment of nearly $70 million in the California Farm to School Incubator Grant, a program championed by First Partner and administered by CDFA, to provide competitive grants to support innovative local and regional farm-to-school projects. In the 2021-22 budget, the state also invested $150 million to upgrade kitchen infrastructure and train food service employees. In line with the report’s recommendations, the Governor’s Action Plan for California proposes an additional $30 million to support the grant program and $450 million to improve school kitchen infrastructure and equipment to incorporate more scratch cooking and the use of fresh, minimally processed, California-grown foods at school. meal.

plant the seed is the result of a collaboration, led by First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, between a number of state agency leaders, education professionals, and experts and practitioners from farm to school. Planting the Seed: A Farm-to-School Roadmap for Success can be found here.

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