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Local Food for Local Schools Pilot Project Reimbursement Bill

Updated January 3, 2024

Farm to School programming isn't just great for kids — it benefits farmers and communities too! Implementing farm to school activities teaches healthy eating habits, improves food security, and increases engagement from students, parents, educators, and the community. It also has an impact on economic development, reduces food waste, and contributes to a more sustainable food system. Read more about the benefits from the National Farm to School Network here.

WHO + WHAT 
HB1678-FN
, the Local Food for Local Schools Reimbursement Pilot Program, will establish a local food reimbursement pilot program for New Hampshire schools. In partnership with the NH Farm to School Network, the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food is requesting $241,000 from the state legislature to establish a 2-year pilot program aiming to incentivize New Hampshire’s schools to purchase locally grown, caught, or produced foods from New Hampshire and New England farmers, fishermen, and producers through reimbursements. 

Schools interested in the program will submit an application, receive a reimbursement allotment, and be reimbursed for all qualifying food purchases at the following rate: $1 for every $3 spent on New Hampshire grown, caught, or produced foods and $1 for every $6 spent on New England grown, caught, or produced foods. 

 

WHY 

The NH Farm to School Network estimates the Local Food for Local Schools Reimbursement Pilot Program will annually inject up to $420,000 federal and state funds directly into New Hampshire’s farm and food economy. 

Through the reimbursement program, farm to school advocates, parents, teachers, farmers, and community members believe that by having local fruits, vegetables, and other fresh foods served in the cafeteria New Hampshire will see a rise in: 

  • Maintain and build school and farmer relationships that will allow for less supply chain disruption and increase food security 

  • Profitability for New Hampshire farmers, fishermen, and food producers, as they gain access to a new market for their products 

  • Educational opportunities for New Hampshire students about the variety of fruits, vegetables, and other products grown and produced both locally and regionally, as well as career opportunities in the agricultural and hospitality sectors. 

HOW 

The Process 

  1. A New Hampshire school that participates in the National School Lunch Program submits a Local Food for Local Schools Reimbursement program application to the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food. 

  2. The Local Food for Local Schools Reimbursement program selection committee approves the school’s application and, through the reimbursement formula, the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food allots funds to the school based on the school’s total enrollment and utilization of the National School Lunch Program. 

  3. Once the school is notified with the maximum dollar amount they will be reimbursed for, the school food service department can start purchasing locally grown, caught, or produced foods from New Hampshire and New England farmers, fishermen, and producers. 

  4. To receive the reimbursement funds, the school submits a copy of all invoices for eligible purchases on a monthly basis until the entirety of their allotted reimbursement funds has been reached. 

Purchase Rules + Requirements 

  1. Foods purchased as part of the Local Food for Local Schools Reimbursement program shall originate in New Hampshire or New England. The place of origin shall be confirmed through self-attestation from the originating producer, or any other means required by the federal government or NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food. 

  2. Qualifying foods can be purchased from a variety of sources, including food hubs, direct purchases from farms, and purchases through conventional distributors.  

  3. Eligible foods include processed dairy, fish, pork, beef, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, cider, and maple syrup. Minimally processed proteins and minimally processed produce are also included. Fluid milk is not a qualifying food for this program.  

  4. All food purchased through the program shall comply with National School Lunch Program guidelines. 

  5. All food purchased may be served in the school breakfast, school lunch, or fresh fruit and vegetable programs. 

  6. Only school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program are eligible to apply to the reimbursement program. 

  7. Reimbursement funds may be used to purchase food or kitchen equipment specifically for use in processing, cooking, storing and serving local food. 

Roles + Responsibilities 

The NH Department Agriculture, Markets and Food and NH Farm to School will be responsible for: 

  • Assembling a selection committee made up of six qualified individuals with knowledge of New Hampshire agriculture, experience with school food service, school nutrition, or farm-to-school processes 

  • Establishing program guidelines, including a formula to determine the reimbursement allotment for schools, and maximum/minimum reimbursement amounts based on total student enrollment for each school district and participation in National School Breakfast and Lunch Program 

  • Contracting with NH Farm to School to support program coordination and management 

The NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food, NH Farm to School, and the Local Food for Local Schools Reimbursement Program selection committee will be responsible for: 

  • Administering an open grant request for applications (RFA) process for the pilot program 

  • Review program applications and selecting schools with the goal of awarding funds to one school from each county in the state and ensuring a variety of school sizes, geographic locations, and socioeconomic backgrounds 

  • Schools participating in the program will be responsible for: 

  • Participating in the program for both years and spending their entire yearly allotment  

  • Submitting invoices monthly 

  • Serving food during school breakfast, school lunch, or fresh fruit and vegetable programs 

Ways You Can Support the Bill

LETTERS OF SUPPORT
The NH Farm to School Network has created both an individual and organizational sign on letter in support of HB 487-FN. All responses to the letters will be collated into an official letter and submitted to the House Education Committee, the House Finance Committee, and the full legislature throughout the legislative process of the bill.

INDIVIDUALS, SIGN ON HERE | ORGANIZATIONS, SIGN ON HERE

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View/download the toolkit here.

View/download the storybook here.

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View/download the infographic here.

View/download the fact sheet here.

Farm to School in New Hampshire

149 schools in New Hampshire are participating in Farm to School programming, according to a 2019 USDA Farm to School Census.*​

76.5% serve local food

 

73.5% provide food, nutrition, or agricultural education

 

55% of those schools have edible gardens

Nearly 50% hold student field trips to farms, taste tests and cooking demos

*41 School Food Authorities (SFA) representing 172 schools responded to the survey. An SFA is the entity responsible for school food operations and may or may not correspond to the district.

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Farm to School Legislation in Other States

Maine Local Foods Fund: Matches $1 for every $3 a school administrative unit pays for produce, value-added dairy, protein or minimally processed foods purchased directly from a farmer, farmers' cooperative, local food hub, local food processor or food service distributor in the State. Maximum state contribution of $5,000 per school administrative unit in fiscal year 2021-22 and subsequent years or $5,500 per school administrative unit if funding is received and the school administrative unit sends a food service employee to local foods training administered by the department under subsection 13.

Michigan’s 10 Cents a Meal Program: The State of Michigan matches funds spent by school districts and child-care centers, and sponsors up to 10 cents per meal for purchases of Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes. 

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