New bill looks to supply schools with Nebraska-grown food
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -A new initiative is trying to keep Nebraska-grown food right here in the Cornhusker State by connecting schools and local growers. This bill means Nebraska farmers could have one more place to sell produce and one local farmer said it could have a tremendous economic impact.
From the ground to the package, food production is happening at Robinette Farms. Soon their arugula, spinach and microgreens, could make their way to children’s lunch tray, all because of a bill by Senator Tom Brandt.
“It’s an effort to get high-quality Nebraska foods into our local school system,” said Sen. Brandt, Dist. 32.
The Farm-To-School Program would purchase locally-produced food for local public and non-public schools and increase farm-to-school activities statewide.
The bill is two-fold, meant to improve childhood nutrition and strengthen local farm economies.
“A lot of folks think we grow corn, beans and beef in this state and we can’t grow anything else,” said Alex McKiernan, the co-owner of Robinette Farms. “We’re always trying to encourage people to be aware of the food we can grow here.”
The new legislation would move $100,000 from the state’s general fund to support the program.
“The return on investment would be many times over to keep those food dollars in the state of Nebraska,” said Sen. Brandt. “And it will help producers and market gardeners to create a bigger book of business.”
“Although agriculture makes up 50% of the GDP in this state, we import 90% of the food we eat and we just don’t need to,” said McKiernan.
The bill is also designed to get kids interested in agriculture with hands-on opportunities.
“It’s creating a new class of leaders that can take agriculture in the new direction,” said McKiernan. “It’s just one step along the way.”
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