Two Bills to Watch: Connecticut Farmers and Children Can Thrive Together
by Caitlin Chung
On February 7, the Connecticut State Senate held a public hearing for Senate Bill 929 which will go up for vote soon. The bill has a simple goal: to ensure that free school meals for all of Connecticut’s schoolchildren, first introduced as a response to the pandemic– are funded forever.
Children and families are suffering as food insecurity is on the rise, and farmers, school nurses, CEOs, and mothers have all provided testimony explaining the necessity of such a bill. This bill is undoubtedly an excellent step forward towards supporting Connecticut’s children and families. But in conjunction with another bill in the Connecticut House, H.B. No. 6842, the deal can get even sweeter. This bill, if passed, would establish an incentive program for schools to purchase from local farms and expand the popular CT Grown for CT Kids grant program. On March 8th, advocates, students, and farmers powerfully testified at the education committee hearing in support of farm to school (see pic above!).
If HB 6842 passes, it would be a huge step forward for farm to school efforts in CT. It would make year-round collaboration on educational enrichment and student health a priority while also giving farmers an important revenue opportunity. If you support farm to school efforts, please contact your legislators and ask them to cosponsor HB 6842! The CT Farm to School Collaborative has put together this handy template to help you craft your email.
Building a resilient farm to school infrastructure will require funding and institutional support. This bill is an exciting opportunity, but isn't the beginning or the end of this important work! End Hunger CT and CT Farm to School are leading the charge for free school meals for all and ensuring that those meals include nutritious local produce. NCTFA deeply supports both organizations and their work ensuring a food future where farmers and children can thrive together!