Sign-On to Endorse National Farm to School Network's COVID-19 Federal Policy Platform
In the turbulence caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, National Farm to School Network’s Partners, Advisors, and members across the country are working harder than ever to care for those most impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis. This crisis has shone a light on the inequities built into our food system on multiple fronts. We are pleased to see that the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) contains some key measures we support; the Senate should build on these items while addressing further necessary priorities:

- Waive the non-federal cost-share requirements for USDA Farm to School grants awarded in June 2020 and the RFA that will open in fall 2020. School districts, nonprofits, and states will all have limited funds responding to COVID-19 and the economic recovery. Moreover, a recent study of competitive matching grants found they systematically privileged states with more philanthropic dollars, while leaving others out.

- Create a $300 million set-aside relief fund for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, targeted at commercial farms with $250,000 or less in revenue. Producers of color are less likely to have an existing relationship with lenders that would allow them to access federal relief funds due to historic barriers to accessing programs. Past COVID-19 relief bills have attempted to address the needs of small businesses, but without deliberate measures to address the racial and gender wealth gap, and without the kind of limits that target funds to those who need it.

- Provide producers with immediate relief and the ability to plan for the next season by authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to immediately defer all principal payments for the next two years and to make grants to lenders to cover the costs of doing so. This measure is supported by rural lenders and Native communities, and would greatly reduce the burden on producers without the need for new federal programs.

- Extend all child nutrition program waivers through September 30. The Unanticipated School Closures Waiver is the simplest and best way to provide child nutrition program meal sites to continue serving the community without any additional administrative burden or work upon sponsors and state agencies.

National Farm to School Network's response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic are grounded in a central goal of continuing to advance towards strong, just local and regional food systems. Our federal policy platform calls on Washington for immediate relief to the people most impacted by this crisis, while building towards longer-term policies that strengthen a resilient, just food system.

Read the full platform here:
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Federal policymakers are making decisions *right now* that will impact how our communities can weather this crisis. Please add your voice today before Congress finalizes its next COVID-19 response bill.
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