The Kids Eat Local Act (SB 1817) was introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME). If passed, the new law will make it easier for schools to utilize locally grown food in the National School Lunch program.
Current law does not allow schools to specify “local” as a product specification in school food procurement requests and while they can currently use a “geographic preference” option, most schools have found that process confusing and burdensome. Simplifying local food procurement will improve the ability of schools to source produce from Ohio farmers.
The interest in Farm to School (F2S) has increased in Ohio. Whether in large urban districts or smaller schools throughout the state, programs are springing up to provide healthy, local food options to Ohio children, to teach through school gardens, and much more. See some examples of Ohio F2S success stories here.
“Ohio farmers grow some of the best produce in the country,” said Senator Brown. “This legislation will increase locally grown foods in our school lunchrooms while strengthening our farms and rural communities.”
By including the Kids Eat Local Act in the next Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization, schools will have a new, easier-to-use local product specification option. This addition would create important new opportunities for local farmers to sell into school districts, bringing a win-win for students and farmers. This legislation would provide schools flexibility in determining the definition of “local” that best suits their needs.