A democratic state legislator from California’s wine country is trying to make history, proposing that the state become the first in the nation to make a large-scale switch to organic foods in school cafeterias.
The bill, introduced late last month by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, would launch a new agency within the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Office of Farm to Fork, which would oversee the California Organic-to-School Pilot Program.
As the NRDC summarizes in a blog post, the state would then provide up to 15 cents in additional reimbursement to schools who purchase more California-grown organic food, so that “tens of thousands of California students who rely on free or reduced-price school meals have healthier options on their breakfast trays and lunch plates” (Johnson and Brook, 2019).
In recognition of the fact that these “low-income communities across the state are burdened disproportionately by toxic pesticide use,” the legislation requires that schools with a high proportion of low-income students, and/or those located near agricultural fields will get priority for funding when the pilot program begins.
We will keep an eye on this bill’s progress as it moves through the legislative process. With all the current news about the possible health benefits of organic foods (see our coverage on cancer and diabetes risk for more), it will be interesting to see whether constituents bring pressure on their elected officials to support the proposed program.
California Legislature, “AB-958, The California Organic-to-School Pilot Program,” Proposed bill, Introduced by Assembly Member Aguia-Curry, February 21, 2019, Date accessed: March 4, 2019.
Allison Johnson and Lena Brook, “California Could Be the First Organic-to-School State,” NRDC, Date published: February 21, 2019; Data accessed: March 4, 2019.