Understanding the Kids Eat Local Act

You throw a stone into the middle of a pond and soon you will see the ripples it has caused reach the shore.

When schools and centers purchase local foods, the ripple is felt large and wide. Not only does it support local farmers, which in turns allows money to be filtered throughout the community, but it touches how we take care of our community in a larger scale. Using local food means less time and resources used to transport. Programs receive fresher food and less fuel is used to do so.

While support is on the rise for the use of local foods whenever possible, some language used in the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization made it hard for centers to use local foods. The Kids Eat Local Act (H.R. 3220, S. 1817), introduced today by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Josh Harder (D-CA), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), is working to change this.

A new act is set to connect local food sources with children served by the Child and Adult Care Food Program, or CACFP. The Kids Eat Local Act includes language that will make it easier to connect programs to local food sources. The new Act will allows  a new, easier-to-use local product specification option through which they could specify “locally grown,” “locally raised” or “locally caught” in their procurement language.

This means, specifically in Pennsylvania, that the 60 thousand working farms could be connected to the 26 thousand preschool ages children served in Head Start programs over the year. This will have a huge impact of how we use the funds we are awarded! An average of 141,685 meals were served in between April and May 2019 in child care centers (including Head Start) through CACFP in the United States.