Burlington, Vt. – Vermont has long been recognized as a leader in the Farm to School movement, which connects our students to local farmers through hands-on learning and healthy meals. Today, Governor Phil Scott signed S.33, the Rozo McLaughlin Farm to School bill, which will further enhance Vermont’s Farm to School programming by expanding the program and setting new, ambitious goals for growth.
With the signing of S.33, Vermont’s early childhood education centers, such as the Burlington Children’s Space – where today’s event was held – are now eligible for Farm to School grant funding. The bill also sets new statewide goals for Farm to School: By 2025, 75 percent of schools will engage significantly in Farm to School programing, and 50 percent of school food will be purchased from local or regional sources.
At today’s bill signing event, the Governor praised the educators, farmers, and community members who come together to deliver Farm to School programs to Vermont’s students.
“Farm to School programs bring healthy, nutritious foods to our school cafeterias, teach our students about the importance of agriculture, and help establish lifelong healthy habits for the next generation of Vermonters,” said Gov. Scott. “Our Farm to School program has always been a source of pride for Vermont. Now, our nationally leading program will be even stronger, thanks to the efforts of all those who are committed to Farm to School efforts in our classrooms, cafeterias, and communities.”
Not only does Farm to School help feed and educate the next generation of Vermonters, it plays a significant role in Vermont’s economy. Statewide, our schools purchase nearly $1 million in local food, which is 5.6 percent of all school food spending. With the signing of this bill, the economic impact locally will be even greater.
The Farm to School bill is named for Rosemary “Rozo” McLaughlin, a legislator and lifelong resident of Royalton. She was a tireless advocate for Farm to School programming and passed away in 2006. McLaughlin was instrumental in first establishing Vermont’s Farm to School grant program in 2006. The 2006 legislation set into motion a strong statewide Farm to School network, the development of regional Farm to School nonprofits, and a robust inter-agency partnership to support Farm to School programs, including of the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, Agency of Education, and Department of Health.