Vermont Enacts Local Food Purchasing Incentive for Schools: $500,000 appropriated for Year One

Read Betsy Rosenbluth's letter to the Network


This story in the news:


June 16, 2021

MONTPELIER, VT — Governor Phil Scott signed H.106 and H.439 on June 8, 2021, enacting a Local Foods Purchasing Incentive for Vermont schools, and providing through the budget $500,000 for the first year of the incentive. This new law (now Act 67) will provide a direct incentive to schools who meet local purchasing targets in their school meal programs, allowing them to serve more fresh Vermont food on their menus.

“This Local Purchasing Incentive is good for schools, good for students, good for farmers, and good for our Vermont economy,” Betsy Rosenbluth explained. “It provides fresh, nutritious food for our students and also a reliable market for our farmers and other producers. We all win with this new program.”

“The passage of Act 67 is an important step to implementing Vermont’s Agriculture and Food System Plan. Establishing the Local Food Purchasing Incentive is a priority strategy of the Plan, and brings the state closer to achieving goals of increasing demand for Vermont food and ensuring that all Vermonters can access local food where it is served. And thanks to the foundation built over the years by the Farm to School Network, the incentive will work in concert with existing Farm to School programming and technical assistance to accelerate the transformation of Vermont’s cafeterias, classrooms, and communities,” noted Jake Claro, Vermont Farm to Plate Director.

Act 67 creates a tiered incentive for schools, allowing schools to ramp up their local purchasing by providing 15¢ per lunch for 15% local food purchased, 20¢ for 20% and 25¢ for 25%. The program uses the definition of Vermont local, developed by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, adopted in Act129 of 2020.

"This bill promotes systematic, structural changes that will support the purchase of local food in schools and will positively impact our communities in so many ways!” enthused Amrita Parry with Green Mountain Farm Direct Food Hub. “We know that money spent locally by schools has a multiplier effect. Not only will H. 106 provide economic support for Vermont farmers, it will also keep money circulating in our local economy. Food hubs like Green Mountain Farm Direct will be able to pay a fair price for Vermont-grown crops and strengthen local distribution systems. This bill is a win for agriculture, the economy, and our kids." 

Tom Brewton, from Food Connects Food Hub noted, “At Food Connects, we work with schools year round to provide local, nutritious foods to be served in their cafeterias and classrooms. The food service directors we partner with love to integrate local foods into their menus, but often face significant budgetary constraints. The Local Foods Purchasing Incentive is a win-win for all involved along the supply chain, from our farmers to our children. Most importantly, it will help alleviate the financial pressures that our schools face and enable them to offer a consistent variety of local foods to our youth. At Food Connects, we are ready to work alongside our food service directors to consider ways that they would like to expand their local food purchasing.”

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The language from the bill can be found here (beginning on page 14).

The Vermont Farm to School Network provides leadership, coordination, and advocacy to advance new and existing farm to school efforts in Vermont classrooms, cafeterias, and communities. Over 500 Vermont advocates, organizations, farms and businesses are leading the effort to achieve food system education, local food purchasing and access to nourishing meals in every school.

Contact: Betsy Rosenbluth, Project Director, Vermont FEED, Shelburne Farms
(802) 355-5193 • [email protected]