Reform the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program

Legislation Reforming Federal Food Programs to Mandate Fresh, Locally Grown Fruits and Vegetables

Executive Summary

This legislation mandates biologically active, non-processed foods in the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, prioritizes organic and biodynamic produce, creates a marketplace for local vendors, and ensures family-owned small businesses receive a significant share of procurement contracts.

Title: Nourish Our Kids Act

Purpose: To reform the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to mandate biologically active, non-processed foods, prioritize organic or biodynamically certified produce, create a marketplace for local vendors, and prioritize family-owned small businesses.

Section 1: Short Title This Act may be cited as the "Fresh Food and Nutritional Access Reform Act."

Section 2: Findings and Purpose (a) Findings:

  1. Consumption of fresh, biologically active, and non-processed foods is essential for optimal health and nutrition.

  2. Local procurement supports community economies and reduces environmental impacts associated with long-distance food transportation.

  3. Processed foods often contain additives, preservatives, and lower nutritional value, which are detrimental to children's health.

  4. Organic and biodynamically certified produce provides significant health benefits and supports sustainable agricultural practices.

  5. A centralized marketplace connecting local vendors with school districts and other institutions can streamline procurement and ensure transparency and efficiency.

  6. Existing federal nutrition programs can be enhanced to provide fresher, higher-quality produce by sourcing locally and prohibiting processed foods.

(b) Purpose:

  1. To mandate the provision of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables in all federal food programs serving schools.

  2. To prohibit the inclusion of processed foods in school nutrition programs.

  3. To establish a funding mechanism and marketplace platform connecting school administrators with local producers.

  4. To ensure the seamless integration of these mandates across all relevant federal nutrition programs.

Section 3: Definitions For the purposes of this Act:

  1. Fresh Produce: Fruits and vegetables that are in their raw state and have not been processed or preserved.

  2. Locally Grown: Produce grown within 200 miles of the school or within the state where the school is located.

  3. Processed Foods: Foods that have been altered from their natural state through methods such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration, or the addition of preservatives and other additives.

  4. School Nutrition Programs: Includes the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), Special Milk Program (SMP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and Farm to School Program.

Section 4: Program Requirements

(a) Mandatory Fresh, Locally Grown Produce: All school nutrition programs must source at least 50% of their fruits and vegetables from local producers by January 1, 2025. This percentage shall increase to 75% by January 1, 2027.

(b) Prohibition of Processed Foods: All school nutrition programs shall be prohibited from including processed foods in their meal offerings. This mandate shall take effect on January 1, 2025.

(c) Organic and Biodynamic Certification: The Program shall prioritize the procurement of organic or biodynamically certified produce. At least 75% of all fresh fruits and vegetables purchased under the program shall be certified organic or biodynamic by January 1, 2025.

Section 5: Marketplace for Local Vendors (a) Establishment: The Department of Defense, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, shall establish an online marketplace platform by June 30, 2026. This platform will allow local vendors to list their produce and nutrition administrators from school districts to select from these producers.

(b) Funding:

  1. An initial funding of $50 million shall be allocated for the development and maintenance of this marketplace.

  2. Grants shall be provided to local vendors and school districts to facilitate their participation in the marketplace, with priority given to family-owned small businesses.

Section 6: Prioritization of Family-Owned Small Businesses

(a) Procurement Prioritization: The Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program shall prioritize procurement from family-owned small businesses. At least 30% of all contracts for fresh produce shall be awarded to family-owned small businesses by January 1, 2025.

(b) Support and Development: The Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Small Business Administration, shall offer support and development programs for family-owned small businesses to enhance their capacity to supply the program.

Section 7: Reporting and Accountability (a) Annual Report:

The Secretary of Agriculture shall submit an annual report to Congress detailing:

  1. The percentage of fresh, locally grown produce procured.

  2. The participation rate of family-owned small businesses.

  3. The effectiveness and utilization of the online marketplace.

  4. The impact on K-12 schools, including nutritional outcomes and participation rates.

(b) Audits:

The Government Accountability Office shall conduct regular audits to ensure compliance with this Act and the efficient use of funds.

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