Advocating for Farm to School

The Illinois Farm to School Network advocates for farm to school policy and legislation that support schools, farms and local communities. We partner with the National Farm to School Network and state-level policy organizations to advocate for policy changes that will foster and support farm to school activities.

By joining the Network, we will periodically send out information about current advocacy campaigns or ways for you to get involved in educating your local representatives and advocating for changes at the federal level, too.

Resources from our policy partners:

State Farm to School Legislative Survey, 2002-2014, National Farm to School Network

The State Farm to School Legislative Survey provides state-by-state summaries of every enacted, defeated or pending farm to school-related bill from 2002-2017. It also includes analysis and infographics on state farm to school legislative trends; case studies on successful farm to school advocacy efforts; and additional resources to help advocates learn about and replicate the wide variety of existing state farm to school laws, policies and programs. Check out where Illinois stands on statewide farm to school policy compared to other states!

Farm to School Advocacy, National Farm to School Network

Check out this page for opportunities to take action on federal-level farm to school policies!

Illinois Stewardship Alliance

Our partners at the Illinois Stewardship Alliance cultivate a local food and farm system that is economically viable, socially just and environmentally sustainable. ISA provides opportunities for Illinoisans to advocate at both the local and federal level to support a healthy local food system.

Illinois Environmental Council

The Illinois Environmental Council Education Fund engages in education and outreach and provides a forum for environmentalists. The Illinois Environmental Council serves as the environmental community’s eyes, ears and voice in Springfield. The two organizations – collectively known as IEC – work together to ensure a more healthful environment for Illinois residents. Seven Generations Ahead, the non-profit that manages the Illinois Farm to School Network, is a member organization of IEC.

Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity

The Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity (IAPO) is a multi-sector coalition that works for equitable and just opportunities for Illinoisans to eat healthy and be physically active to optimize their health and well-being. IAPO is an active supporter of local food systems and farm to school initiatives as a strategy to create a healthier state.

Healthy Schools Campaign

HSC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that all students have access to healthy school environments where they can learn and thrive. Check out their website to see how you can get involved!

National Farm to School Policies

Many efforts have been made at the federal level to support farm to school initiatives in the last 9 years. Learn more about some of the current policies in effect below.

USDA Farm to School Program

In 2010, the National Farm to School Network and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition – along with a network of supporters from across the country – successfully advocated for funding of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. This provided an initial $5 million in grant funding for innovative farm to school projects by schools, nonprofits, farmers, and local, state and tribal government entities. 

From FY 2013 to FY 2018, the program received more than 1,900 applications totaling more than $140 million in requests. Unfortunately, demand far exceeds the amount of funding: only 436 projects (~$30 million) were able to be funded during this 6-year period. However, thanks to the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill, farm to school promoters should be aware that funding will increase over the next two years. In FY 2019 and FY 2020, the USDA Office of Community Food Systems, which oversees the Farm to School Grant Program, will be able to provide $7.5 million per year to help reach more communities seeking to incorporate local products into school meal programs, integrate food & ag education into the classroom, and cultivate and expand school gardens. 

Ongoing National Policy Initiatives

2018 Farm Bill Efforts

The National Farm to School Network and its federal-level policy partners advocated for three key priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill:

(1) Adopting the Farm to School Act of 2017 to increase mandatory funding and expand access for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, 

(2) Amending the Geographic Preference provision in the existing Farm Bill to allow the use of “location” as a product specification when procuring school food, and 

(3) Continuing and expanding to more states the Pilot Project for Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables and allow participating states more flexibility in procuring fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. 

While none of these priorities were ultimately included in the final House or Senate farm bills, NFSN’s advocacy efforts were successful in gaining new, bipartisan Congressional farm to school champions and forging new coalitions with other agriculture advocacy organizations.

Coming soon!