TUESDAY: Juneau in DC to Urge Congress to Support Farm to School Programs


Monday, March 22, 2010
By Jessica Rhoades
406.444.3160

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Superintendent Denise Juneau Urges Congress to Support Farm to School Programs
to Boost Learning, Nutrition, and Montana Economy

Senate Ag Committee Considers Child Nutrition Act This Week

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  On the heels of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s visit to Montana, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau is in Washington D.C. this week to voice her support for local Farm to School programs to Montana’s congressional delegation.  Farm to School programs educate students about the interconnection of food, nutrition, and agriculture, and encourage them to eat more fruits and vegetables and make healthier food choices.

“Agriculture is the state’s largest industry,” said Juneau. “Schools can also provide a substantial and consistent market for local farmers and ranchers, which support our rural communities. My goal is to help empower our delegation to go in and talk about this issue."

The Senate agriculture committee will be marking up the Child Nutrition Act for 2010 this Wednesday.  Senator Max Baucus serves on the agriculture committee. The current bill includes $25 million in funding for Farm to School grant programs but farmers and farm-to-school advocates are asking for an increased appropriation of $50 million.

Farm-to-School programs are popping up in Montana's urban and rural schools, and full funding for this grant program could provide solutions to infrastructure problems like storage, transportation, food preparation, and technical training.

There are more than forty school gardens in Montana, and a well-funded Farm to School grant program could help to increase this amount and to develop experiential curriculum to turn those gardens into classrooms. 

According to a report by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, Montana’s public institutions spent approximately $33 million on food in fiscal year 2004/2005, including $19 million in K12 schools food purchases. A 10 percent increase by value of Montana-produced
food purchased by Montana's institutions would bring almost $5 million directly into the state's economy. These opportunities are particularly significant for rural areas in Montana which face severe economic development needs.

“Farm to School programs have something for everyone because they can improve learning, nutrition, and local economies,” said Juneau. “Community-based agriculture has the potential for creating jobs, developing small business entrepreneurships and keeping precious dollars in the community.”

Juneau will also be speaking with Montana’s congressional delegation about how federal school reform proposals will impact rural, frontier states like Montana and will participate in a meeting of the Conference of Chief State School Officers, the organization of State School Superintendents across the U.S.

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