Nebraska lawmakers advance Farm to School Program Act

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SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (KCAU) – A bill making its way through the Nebraska Legislature would put locally produced food into school cafeterias.

The Nebraska Farm-To-School Program Act will make it possible for locally and regionally produced food to stay in the state.

Lawmakers said it would boost local economies while also improving nutrition in Nebraska schools.

Legislative Bill 396 would put locally grown vegetables, dairy and meat on Nebraska school lunch trays.

“It brings some very nutritious food items to the table if they’re locally grown and organically produced especially by our local farmers. But, it also provides a great connection and a student awareness of where the foods come from locally,” South Sioux Community Schools Superintendent Todd Strom said.

State lawmakers said the program would also create economic opportunity.

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“As far as us, you’re going to keep the money into the area that is supporting your business which is always great instead of having it somewhere else or out of town. It’ll help businesses like us grow and possibly grow and employ more people. If we have more outlets around here to distribute it.” said John Swick, the owner of Cardinal Farms.

He said keeping food local saves time and money.

“It’s great to keep your produce local. Saves you on shipping. You don’t have your stuff going across the country,” Swick said.

The program also includes hands-on activities, like farm visits for students, school gardening, and the addition of nutrition and agricultural education into school curriculums.

“I think the farm to the table connection and that educational piece, with field trips or just seeing it how it’s produced and how people in the business living in every day is huge. You can’t be replicated in a classroom in a textbook those are certain experiences that can only be done if you go actually to the farm or to the field,” Strom said.

John Swick said he hopes something like the Farm-To-School program will attract younger generations to get involved in agriculture.

So far, the bill has received first-round approval in the Nebraska Legislature.

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