DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig applauded the Legislature’s passing and Gov. Kim Reynolds signing the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s department bill, SF 578. Reynolds signed the bill into law on Tuesday. Included in the legislation is an expansion of the Department’s Farm-to-School program that will help increase the servings of locally-produced foods in school meals and snacks.
“I want to thank Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature for continuing to invest in the local foods program. It is a win for our school nutrition programs and our local farmers. There’s no better way to get more nutritious, Iowa-grown produce and protein into the hands of our students,” Naig said in a released statement. “The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship saw tremendous demand for locally-grown foods during the pandemic. This update helps us continue to build upon those successful programs to strengthen the local food chain.”
SF 578 establishes a new fund within the Department’s existing Farm-to-School program that will be used to incentivize schools to purchase locally grown and raised foods produced by Iowa farmers. Participating schools would be eligible to be reimbursed $1 for every $3 spent on local foods including fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy, up to $1,000 annually. This strategy will provide new markets for farmers, create lasting connections between schools and local producers, and strengthen Iowa’s local and regional food systems.
In 2020, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship partnered with the Feeding Iowans Task Force and utilized federal CARES funds to launch the Local Produce and Protein Program, which saw incredible success and participation statewide. In total, $220,000 in grants were awarded to 108 K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and early care centers to buy produce, meat, eggs and dairy products directly from local producers, food hubs, or food auctions for their foodservice programs.