Sen. Wyden’s amendment: Allow schools to shop local for fresh food, good gleaners to be more efficient with food collections
Washington, D.C. – A pair of amendments to the Senate Farm Bill authored by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that establishes multiple farm-to-school demonstration projects across the United States and helps gleaners access USDA operational loans to assist their efforts to alleviate food insecurity in their communities have been approved.
These demonstration projects allow schools and local school food authorities to access healthy, local produce for the breakfasts, lunches or snacks served to kids every day. Recognizing the growing obesity epidemic among children in the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics supported this amendment, citing its effective approach to supporting child nutrition.
“Oregon schools receive $1 billion a year in federal school lunch assistance and yet they are required to spend that money almost anywhere but Oregon,” Wyden said. “Fresh, healthy, locally-grown food available in their communities should be on the shopping lists for Oregon schools and the same should be said for all schools throughout the country. This amendment will give innovative states with established farm to school programs the ability to buy locally, support their own communities and help to make their children’s meals healthier.”
Wyden’s micro-loan amendment will make gleaners eligible for USDA-backed micro-loans to purchase the equipment such as refrigerators or vehicles needed to expand their efforts. Gleaners voluntarily collect food that would otherwise be thrown away and donate it to food banks or other institutions that deliver it directly to those in need. Often, these gleaners do not have enough vehicles or large enough refrigeration equipment needed to expand their abilities to meet the needs of those needing assistance in their community. These – of $500 to $5,000 will give them the access to capital necessary to improve their operations and assist more people.
“For a lot of gleaners, the only thing standing in the way of them helping more and more members of their communities get a good meal is the limitations of the equipment they have on hand,” Wyden said. “A small loan for another refrigerator or a vehicle to transport perfectly good food that would otherwise end up in landfills or incinerators could go a long way toward improving their ability to expand their operations and help more people.”
The amendments were included in the Farm Bill being considered on the floor of the Senate this week. Final passage of the entire Senate Farm Bill is expected later this week.