SECTION 1. Notwithstanding section 6D of chapter 29 of the General Laws, to provide for the farm-to-school grant program established in section 4, the sum set forth in section 2 is hereby appropriated from the General Fund.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
XXXX- XXXX For the farm-to-school grant program established in section 4 ……………$200,000.
SECTION 3. The Massachusetts School Building Authority, referred to in this section as the Authority, in collaboration with the department of elementary and secondary education, shall, subject to appropriation, develop a 3-year pilot program for up to 1 school per calendar year for public elementary and secondary schools with the purpose of updating school kitchens for fresh food preparation and storage.
Eligible schools electing to participate in the pilot program shall notify the Authority through an application procedure established by the Authority, on or before January 31 of each calendar year during the pilot program.
After the initial application, the Authority shall determine the best candidates for the pilot program using the following criteria:
(i) The scope of renovations needed to fully update the kitchen to prepare fresh food;
(ii) The school’s capacity to implement such measures;
(iii) The school’s plans on how best to use a newly renovated space with the additional features to allow for fresh food preparation; and
(iv) The existence of the school’s plan to purchase food produced in Massachusetts and a plan to provide food- based, agriculture-based or garden-based educational activities; and
(v) Any additional criteria as established by the Authority.
Schools electing to participate shall be eligible for financial support of up to 70 per cent of the cost for updating the kitchen, as determined by the Authority, using criteria established pursuant to this section.
The Authority shall develop guidelines for a quarterly review of the progress being made by each school participating in the pilot program. Strategies shall be researched to fully utilize the kitchen's space to prepare and store fresh and nutritious food for students.
The participating schools and the Authority shall prepare and submit an annual report during each year renovation is taking place and 3 years thereafter analyzing the implementation and efficacy of the pilot program to determine evidence-based standards for school kitchens to adhere to across school districts in the commonwealth. The Authority shall submit such annual report to the joint committee on education and the house and senate committees on ways and means on or before September 1 of each year such report is required. The last such report shall contain recommendations for legislation, if any, together, with drafts of legislation necessary to carry those recommendations into effect.
SECTION 4. (a) There shall be a 4-year pilot program administered by the department of elementary and secondary education, in consultation with the department of public health and the department of agriculture, to create a farm-to-school community challenge which aims to promote locally grown food as well as nutritious school meals with the purpose of providing evidence that communities gain positive changes in the eating habits of children and adolescents.
The farm-to-school pilot program aims to improve access to local foods in eligible schools; increase the supply of fresh, locally grown farm products served for meals and snacks in in public elementary and secondary schools and incorporates better education and engagement around healthy food choices. The program shall be implemented in a collaborative manner that recognizes the specific expertise of the agencies and makes effective use of that expertise to more efficiently implement a successful program.
(b) The pilot program shall include a Farm-to-School Grants Program. The program shall be administered by the department of elementary and secondary education and shall have the following purposes: (i) to award local grants for the purpose of helping Massachusetts schools develop and sustain relationships with local farmers and producers (ii) to enrich the educational experience of students (iii) to improve the health of Massachusetts children and (iv) to enhance the Massachusetts agricultural economy.
(c) A school, a school district, a consortium of schools, or a consortium of school districts may apply to the department of elementary and secondary education for a grant award to:
(1) fund equipment, resources, training, and materials that will help to increase use of local foods in the participating schools;
(2) fund items, including local food products, gardening supplies, field trips to farms, and stipends to visiting farmers and fishermen, that will help teachers use hands-on educational techniques to teach children about nutrition and farm-and sea-to-school connections; and
(3) fund professional development and technical assistance, in partnership with the department of elementary and secondary education and farm-to-school technical service providers, to help teachers and members of the farm-to-school community educate students about nutrition and farm-to-school connections and assist schools in developing a farm-to-school program.
(d) The department of elementary and secondary education, in consultation with the Interagency farm-to-school interagency task force established in section 6, shall adopt rules relating to the content of the grant application and the criteria for making awards.
(e) No award shall be greater than $15,000.00.
(f) The department of elementary and secondary education may expend for the administrative costs incurred under this section no more than 5 per cent of all moneys received by the department for the grant program.
SECTION 5. Chapter 267 of the acts of 2016 is hereby amended by striking out section 2.
SECTION 6. (a) There is hereby established a farm-to-school interagency task force to study and investigate farm-to-school programs pursuant to this section and coordinate and advance the work of the pilot program established in section 4. The task force shall consist of 13 members to be appointed by the governor, 2 of whom shall be nominated by the commissioner of the department of elementary and secondary education, 1 of whom shall be nominated by the secretary of housing and economic development, 1 of whom shall be nominated by the commissioner of agricultural resources, 1 of whom shall be nominated by the commissioner of public health, 1 of whom shall be nominated by the division of marine fisheries, 1 of whom shall be a representative of a school district, 1 of whom shall be a representative from the food service industry, 1 of whom shall be a farmer in the commonwealth, 1 of whom shall be a food distributor in the commonwealth, 1 of whom shall be a food processor in the commonwealth, 1 of whom shall be a representative from an agricultural organization with a level of expertise in farm-to-school programs, and 1 of whom shall be a representative from a nonprofit organization with expertise in community food security.
Said task force shall meet within 90 days of the effective date of this act, and shall meet at least twice in each fiscal year at times determined by the task force
(b) The task force shall:
(i) Strategize ways to devote existing agency resources to promoting and sustaining farm-to-school programs in the Commonwealth;
(ii) Identify areas of capacity building needed both within and outside of participating agencies to ensure that farm-to-school programs can be sustained over time;
(iii) Identify and promote the critical components of successful local farm-to-school programs through new and existing training opportunities;
(iv) Provide guidance to the department of elementary and secondary education of local farm-to-school grants programs;
(v) Consider all of the following issues, in addition to any others it deems necessary:
(A) Coordination of rules and regulations to support farm-to-school activity, including but not limited to providing guidance on food safety practices in school gardens and nutrition education programs;
(B) Economic impacts of local food purchasing by Massachusetts institutions and opportunities to expand this sector;
(C) Opportunities to enhance state procurement processes and regulations to support local food purchasing by Massachusetts institutions;
(D) the adequacy of staffing, storage, and preparation equipment necessary to operate a farm-to-school program; and
(E) Integration of food and nutrition education curriculum and hands-on learning experiences through school gardens and farm visits that will enhance students’ access to and understanding and acceptance of farm fresh foods.
(c) Said task force shall file an annual report at the end of each fiscal year with the governor and the clerks of the house of representatives and senate, who shall forward the same to the joint committee on education, along with recommendations, if any, together, with drafts of legislation necessary to carry those recommendations into effect. The executive office of education shall publish the task force report on its website.
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