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Policy and Advocacy

$202 MILLION
Secured for school food and Farm to School in 2020 California Budget

Policy and Advocacy

Policy and advocacy that support and inspire sustainable school communities.

Thoughtfully designed and implemented policies create conditions that ensure students flourish and thrive. The Center for Ecoliteracy works with school districts and partners at the local, state, and national level to advance policies and practices that foster sustainable school communities and transform how students learn. 

Recently, the Center for Ecoliteracy focused its advocacy efforts on Farm to School and securing essential funding to help schools realize the full potential of school meals. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated child hunger and challenged decades of progress in serving fresh, local school meals and teaching students where and how food is sustainably grown. In response, the Center for Ecoliteracy joined with school districts and allied organizations, including The Office of Kat Taylor and NextGen California, to successfully advocate for $112 million for California schools’ COVID-19 food response and $10 million for Farm to School programming in the 2020–21 California state budget. An additional $80 million for school food's COVID-19 response has been approved by the California Legislature and is awaiting the Governor's signature.

This success built on our previous work supporting Farm to School innovators through the creation of the California-Grown Fresh School Meals Grant Program. This program, championed by California State Senator Nancy Skinner, included $1.5 million of state funding in 2017–2018 and an additional $1 million in 2018–2019.

Previous policy successes include a collaboration with Oakland Unified School District to secure $475 million from a local bond measure for school facilities — including a new Central Kitchen, Instructional Farm, and Education Center — with nearly 84% approval from Oakland voters in 2012. 

Our commitment to policy and advocacy has influenced national change. From 1999–2002, playing a leadership role in The Food Systems Project, the Center for Ecoliteracy co-developed the nation’s first district-wide school wellness policy. This policy included the adoption of instructional gardens in every Berkeley elementary school, fresh produce in school lunchrooms, and the commitment that no child would go hungry during the school day. This policy is credited with providing inspiration and proof-of-concept for the 2004 federal mandate requiring all districts participating in the National School Lunch Program to adopt wellness policies.

Legislators are key to making lasting and meaningful change alongside coalitions that include non-profits, like The Center for Ecoliteracy, who are doing work on the ground. Together, we can make mealtime a joyful event in every child's school day. Let's do it - together!
Karen Ross
SECRETARY OF THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE

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