Farm to School and School Garden Bill Passed in Oregon

Great news: The Oregon State Legislature just passed HB2800, the Farm to School and School Garden Bill!! (From Stacy Sobell - Ecotrust*) HB2800, a revised version of the Farm to School and School Garden bill introduced in 2009, was sponsored by long-time Oregon farm to school champions Reps. Brian Clem and Tina Kotek. It received unanimous bipartisan support from both the Oregon House and Senate. The 2011 version of HB 2800 appropriates $200,000 to the Oregon Department of Education to administer a competitive grants pilot program in two medium-sized Oregon school districts.  The majority of the funds will reimburse these school districts an additional 15 cents per school lunch to buy Oregon foods, while 12.5% will support school garden teaching activities. Rep. Clem said seeing the bill come to the House floor was one of the greatest moments in his legislative career.


As noted in this press release from the State, the work Ecotrust did in piloting a similar local lunch subsidy with Portland Public Schools and the Gervais School District during the 2008-2009 school year was instrumental in getting HB 2800 passed this legislative session. The Oregon legislature needed proof that an investment in school food would in fact provide significant economic benefit to the state. I’m pleased to share that proof with you – The Impact of 7 Cents report – which we recently posted to the Ecotrust Farm to School website along with links to the bill and the history of farm to school legislation in Oregon. Further, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to put the report directly in the hands of President Obama (!) last week when Deborah Kane, Vice President of Ecotrust’s Food & Farms program, visited the White House as part of a roundtable discussion hosted by the newly established White House Rural Council.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund at the Northwest Health Foundation for funding the original pilot and research conducted by Ecotrust. With this support, we were able to establish an empirical base of evidence reflecting the efficacy of the proposed legislation, placing particular emphasis on evaluating the economic effects of increased procurement of local foods. Beyond economic effects, researchers at Ecotrust also explored the potential public health benefits of bringing more local products into the lunch room.

This research and the recent passage of HB2800 would not have been possible without assistance from additional funders and the tenacity of numerous community partners and engaged citizens across the state. We thank each and every one of you for your commitment to Oregon foods for Oregon schools.

Should you have any questions about this report, the data, or its findings, please don’t hesitate to contact Stacy at ssobell@ecotrust.org  or 503-467-0751.

*Western Regional Lead for the National Farm to School Network: http://www.farmtoschool.org/regional.php?area=west

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