|Washington, D.C., December 13, 2010 —“American Farmland Trust (AFT) applauds the President’s signature on the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act because the bill makes important strides in updating the nutrition standards for meals and food options in schools, improvements that will have numerous health benefits for our nation’s future—our children,” says Jon Scholl, AFT President.
Another positive aspect of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act is inclusion of the Farm to School Program that will offer $40 million in competitive grants to increase the use of local foods from small- and medium-size farms in school feeding programs.
“This offers another positive opportunity for farmers to enhance the quality of foods in school programs, and that’s the kind of opportunity the agriculture community should embrace,” Scholl adds. “However, passage of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act underscores the need for an abundant supply of healthy farmland to be able to produce a variety of healthy foods for these child nutrition programs.”
Scholl says, “According to USDA data, we are currently 13 million acres short of farmland needed to produce enough fruits and vegetables for every American to meet the minimum recommended daily requirements set by USDA—and more recently, the USDA called for Americans to include even more fruits and vegetables in their diets.”
The most recent National Resources Inventory data shows over 23 million acres of agricultural land (an area the size of Indiana) were converted to developed land between 1982 and 2007. “California and Florida, two of the three states that lost the most agricultural land, account for nearly half (49 percent) of the acreage devoted to growing fruits and vegetables nationwide,” Scholl says.
“While passage of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act is a very positive step to address the nutritional status and hunger issues our children face,” Scholl adds, “we must make sure that farmers have the farmland they need, and the resources to keep it in good environmental condition, because farmland is a critical ingredient in producing healthy food. We must do the right thing on both accounts to find ways to have healthy, hunger free kids AND healthy farms and farmland.” More information on the current status of farmland is available in this recent American Farmland magazine article, “Farmland by the Numbers.”
American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save millions of acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more.
AFT's national office is located in Washington, DC. Phone: 202-331-7300. For more information, visit www.farmland.org.