Wednesday, Senator Mike Braun of Indiana and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced the American Food for American Schools Act, a bill to make sure American-made food is being served in school lunches, first introduced in the House by Congressman John Garamendi and Congressman Doug LaMalfa.
“Our school lunch programs should be supporting American agriculture rather than importing food: it’s safer, healthier, and supports our economy rather than China’s. I took the lead with Senator Brown to introduce the American Food for American Schools Act in the Senate because American kids should be eating American-grown food in our schools,” said Senator Braun.
“The food our kids get at school should be American-produced food, that supports American jobs in our communities,” said Senator Brown. “There’s no reason for schools to buy food products from overseas, when they could get fresh fruits and vegetables from Ohio farmers, and when union bakers and confectioners and other workers make bread and snacks and canned foods here in Ohio. Our bill would require schools to buy American products for all in-school meals, and ensure American tax dollars support American jobs.”
“Even in Northern Californian and Central Valley farming communities, some school districts use taxpayer dollars to buy imported foods. Some of those imported foods have been recalled due to safety concerns, when they could have been sourced locally in California,” said Congressman Garamendi (D-CA). “That’s why my American Food for American Schools Act would ensure that our schoolchildren are served nutritious, American-grown foods, produced under the strictest safety standards in the world.”
“American dollars are for American-produced food. We produce some of the safest and most nutritious food for our families and children while creating American jobs. This bipartisan bill is plain common sense,” said Congressman LaMalfa.
- American Farm Bureau Federation
- American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition
- Indiana Farm Bureau
- International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
- North American Blueberry Council
QUOTES OF SUPPORT:
“The Teamsters are proud to endorse the American Food for American Schools Act. Food served at our nation’s schools should be grown and processed here in the United States to support good American jobs and ensure the highest safety standards,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “We applaud Senators Brown and Braun for their leadership on this issue and look forward to working with them to enact this bill into law.”
“Imports of canned fruits and vegetables are the greatest threat to our industry given lower labor and steel costs in other parts of the world,” said Paul Palmby, CEO of Seneca Foods, speaking as a founding leader of the American Fruit & Vegetable Processors & Growers Coalition. “We applaud this effort to empower and support our schools, parents, and American businesses with common-sense, modernized Buy America policies.”
“NCFC strongly supports the American Food for American Schools Act, introduced today. This bill will strengthen the current “Buy American” provisions in school nutrition programs and recognizes this simple truth—that the taxpayer money spent to ensure millions of schoolchildren across the country have access to nutritious meals in school should also help ensure the economic vitality of America’s farmers and ranchers. I would also like to recognize Senator Braun’s leadership on this issue and urge that this legislation be included in the upcoming farm bill.” – Chuck Conner, President and CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
“As a family farmer and parent, I want nothing more than for children and adults of all ages to have access to and enjoy the health benefits of the blueberries that are grown on my farm, and every farm across the Country. I applaud Senator Braun for introducing The American Foods for American Schools Act and for his work to ensure that American dollars support America’s schools, children, and farmers.” – Pat Goin, Goin’s Blueberry Lane, North Judson, Indiana, on behalf of the North American Blueberry Council
· This bill would provide robust structure to the National School Lunch Program’s (NSLP) Buy America language. It would codify limited exceptions to the requirement—only granting waivers when domestic commodities or products are not reasonably available in sufficient quality or quantities. If a waiver is received, schools must notify parents that American food is not being provided. Waivers can only be granted for up to 5 percent of the total annual commercial food costs of a school food authority within each food component.
· The bill requires USDA to publish information about the adoption of the Buy America requirement—including both a list of granted waivers and of foreign products purchased without a waiver. This information would serve as a “market” for domestic producers to challenge the waiver or enter the market with domestic content.
· In order to streamline the “Buy America” contracting process, the bill would impose Buy American contract requirements for school food procurement. This will lighten the load of School Food Authorities, who may currently have issues creating or demanding language in contract negotiations. If an SFA is provided illegal products in breach of the contract (as in a last minute substitution), the school would have safe harbor. USDA would have authority to seek reimbursement from commercial food suppliers for illegal foreign-sourced products that violate Buy America contract language. These funds would finance USDA’s Buy American Procurement Training Program.
· Finally, the bill would subject other USDA school feeding programs (afterschool snacks, summer food service, child and adult care food, special milk, and school breakfast) to the Buy America requirement, which currently only applies to the NSLP.