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Legislation introduced to ensure American-made food is served in schools

Legislation has been introduced to require school districts to purchase domestically sourced food for in-school meals.

Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, introduced the Senate version of the American Food for American Schools Act with Senator Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana.

“I want to see us feed people better in the schools than we do. I want to work with local school districts to help them in buying these (local food items),” Brown says. “The goal always is to make school affordable and getting our kids used to eating local isn’t a bad thing either.”

The bill was first introduced in the House by Congressman John Garamendi and Congressman Doug LaMalfa.

He tells Brownfield it won’t cost schools more money.

“Meals won’t be more expensive,” he says. “Oftentimes they’re less expensive because they’re local. (That means) Lower transportation costs, lower storage costs, and all that.”

Braun says school lunch programs should be supporting American agriculture rather than importing food.

“It’s safer, healthier, and supports our economy rather than China’s,” he said in a news release. I took the lead with Senator Brown to introduce the American Food for American Schools Act in the Seante because American kids should be eating American-grown food in our schools.”

The legislation is endorsed by American Farm Bureau Federation; American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition; Indiana Farm Bureau; National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; North American Blueberry Council; and International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

According to the news release, the bill would provide robust structure to the National School Lunch Program’s Buy America language. It would codify limited exceptions to the requirement—only granting waivers when domestic commodities or products are not reasonably available in sufficient quality or quantities.

In an effort to streamline the “Buy America” contracting process, it would also impose Buy American contract requirements, lightening the load of School Food Authorities. It would also apply to other USDA school feeding programs including afterschool snacks, summer food service, child and adult care food, special milk, and school breakfast.

The senators say the overall goal is to ensure American tax dollars and American schools support American-made and American-grown food.

Audio: Senator Sherrod Brown discusses the American Food for American Schools Act and more.

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