SECTION 1. Chapter 69 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding, at the end thereof, the following section:-
Section 37. (a) The department shall operate a competitive grant program called the Massachusetts Farm to School Grant Program with the purpose of strengthening the Massachusetts food economy and improving student health and nutrition. The purpose of the program is to build the capacity of primary and secondary public schools to purchase ingredients grown and produced in Massachusetts, prepare scratch-cooked meals and educate students about the food system.
(b) To be eligible for grant funding the department shall require that applicants: (1) be a public school located in the commonwealth; (2) have not less than forty percent of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federally-funded school meals program; and (3) include with their application a letter of agreement with a Massachusetts farmer, fisherman, or distributor of Massachusetts farm or seafood products that indicates an existing or anticipated relationship for procuring food, and an estimated annual dollar value of those purchases.
(c) The program shall provide, subject to appropriation, funding for the following priorities, in order of importance: (1) adequate kitchen equipment used to prepare food for serving in school meals and snacks including but not limited to local, fresh produce, meats, seafood, and dairy items; (2) training school kitchen staff in preparing fresh meals using local ingredients and in procuring such ingredients, and for training educators and other school staff in adding or integrating food system lessons to their curriculum; and (3) infrastructure and programming for curricular and extracurricular activities for students to learn about agriculture and the food system.
(d) Up to fifteen percent of the funds in each grant may be used for the purchase of foods raised, grown or produced in Massachusetts, provided that preparation and consumption of these foods relates to the primary grant activity or expenditure.
(e) The department shall promulgate regulations or guidelines to implement the program established pursuant to section 37A of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in section 1 above.
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