WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded a $208,789 Food and Agricultural Service-Learning Program (FASLP) grant to Rural Action in Athens. The funding aims to expand K-12 education on local food and farming; engage parents and community members in local food systems through gardening and Farm to School initiatives; and facilitate collaboration across the food system.
“Ohio farmers grow some of the best produce in the country,” said Brown. “Not only does this investment provide nutrition education and critical access to healthy, local foods for students and families, but it will also help develop important local markets and expand business opportunities.”
This FASLP grant supports programs intended to increase agriculture knowledge and improve the nutritional health of low-income children and foster higher levels of community engagement between farms and school systems while developing leadership skills for K-12 students to prepare the next generation for agricultural and related careers.
In June 2021, Brown visited school officials and other local partners at Federal Hocking Middle School’s Farm-to-School program to celebrate the program and discuss his efforts to support local agriculture and address child hunger. In April 2021, Brown reintroduced his Kids Eat Local Act, bipartisan legislation to support local and regional food systems. The legislation would allow schools to use “locally grown, locally raised, and locally caught” as a product specification for the food they buy. This bill would help create new markets for farmers and new healthy options for school children. Brown also introduced the Farm to School Act, legislation to renew an important nutrition program that supports both school-aged children and local producers. The bipartisan bill would build on the successes of the USDA’s Farm to School Program, which supports initiatives that deliver fresh, local foods to schools nationwide.
In the 2019 spending package, Brown helped secure $962 million for the NIFA. Brown has been a leader in Ohio’s rural communities. He successfully secured a number of provisions that are important to Ohio farmers in the 2018 Farm Bill, including the reauthorization of the FASLP program, which originally was a provision in Brown’s Local FARMS Act. He is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in 50 years.