We Support Colorado Farmers and Always Will!
We are sad to report that the Colorado General Assembly did not support Colorado producers who want to sell to schools. HB 1088 “died” in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, on a 3-2 party line vote. We are doubly sad to think that farm to school in Colorado became a partisan issue. Farm to school is a win-win for everyone and the development and content of HB 1088 exemplified the very best in non-partisanship. Many thanks to all who put their heart and soul into this effort.
History of the Bill
The Colorado Farm to School Task Force worked hard to identify ways in which state policy can support the growth of farm to school statewide. After four years of meeting with schools, producers, and communities around the state, they recommended the state set up a farm to school producer grant program to support Colorado producers who sell Colorado products to Colorado schools. The program would benefit children, schools, and the economy.
- February 18, 2015: First hearing in the House Education Committee. Passed 6-5
- April 17, 2015: House Appropriations Committee. Passed 8-5.
- April 21, 2015: Second Reading, House Floor. Passed.
- April 22, 2015: Third Reading, House Floor. Passed 32-30.
- April 28, 2015: Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs. Failed 3-2.
- Learn more at Colorado Capitol Watch HB15-1088
Why does Colorado need a Farm to School Grant Program?
Colorado is known as the nation’s leanest state, but fewer people know that our state’s kids lag way behind adults in this category. We’re ranked 23rd in the nation for childhood obesity and our childhood obesity rate is rising the second-fastest rate in the country. One of the best ways to address the challenge is to improve nutrition in schools, and farm to school programs are an excellent way to achieve that improvement.
Farm to school programs benefit student nutrition in two ways. First, scientists have found that local fruits and vegetables are healthier, as the longer produce stays on the road, the more likely it is to lose nutrients. Second, there is also significant evidence that when students and food service personnel have relationships with local farmers and producers, they are more likely to try new and more nutritious food. Students who attend schools with farm to school programs are 28% more likely to choose healthy meal options than those who attend schools without such programs, and students who attend schools that serve fresh produce have a 14% lower chance of being overweight or obese.
These health benefits alone are enough reason to invest in farm to school programs, but it gets even better: these programs can strengthen our economy, especially in the rural regions that have lagged behind in Colorado’s economic recovery. Farmers who participate in farm to school programs see an average 5% increase in their total income. This has ripple effects that improve the health of our whole economy; studies show that each $1 invested in farm to school programs produces $2.16 of local economic activity and for every one job created by schools purchasing local food, 1.67 more jobs are created locally.
Colorado schools report that there are not enough local agricultural producers in the market to meet demand and expand these programs. Colorado’s Farm to School Task Force has identified two main barriers to local producers entering the market: food safety and competitive pricing, and have developed a piece of state legislation to address those barriers. The bill would have created a program to issue grants to Colorado agricultural producers to help offset the costs of labor, material and equipment needed for food safety and other production costs and as well as for season extension equipment. These types of long term investments would enable our farmers to sell their products to Colorado schools.
Contact your state legislator and let them know you supported the bill!
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