in the KNOW

September 1, 2017

Assembly Passes Bill to Boost Buy American Compliance for School Lunches

ClingPeaches_Aug2015On August 31, the California State Assembly unanimously approved SB 730, a bill sponsored by Ag Council and authored by Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), to establish steps for California to improve compliance with the federal Buy American provision in school lunch and breakfast programs.

The bill provides guidance to school food authorities to ensure transparency in school food purchases and improve monitoring of the Buy American requirement.

Assembly passage of SB 730 comes on the heels of a July 2017 California State Audit report revealing the California Department of Education has not ensured that schools are complying with the federal Buy American provision, which requires schools to purchase food grown and processed in the U.S. to the maximum extent practicable.

The California Canning Peach Association President & CEO Rich Hudgins said, “The California Department of Education distributes $2 billion in federal nutrition money to school districts. With SB 730, it’s my hope that if we have increased monitoring and transparency on a broader scale, we will see decisions by school districts to spend funds to source more domestically produced food products into school feeding programs.”

Ag Council President Emily Rooney said, “SB 730 is important because monitoring of the Buy American requirement ensures our children consume food of the highest quality and safety, supports locally-grown products and our economy. It also reinforces California’s commitment as a world leader on climate change given our unparalleled efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Dr. Katie Wilson, the former Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under President Barack Obama, said, “SB 730 will help restore the level of importance that the Buy American provision deserves for our farmers and our children, and it can serve as a model for other states to follow.”

Among the provisions in SB 730, the California Department of Education must inform and distribute to school food authorities the USDA Buy American guidance documents and regulations. Further, the bill requires certain information to be made available online, including the Buy American requirements and best practices, which provides transparency to schools and parents.

Ag Council greatly appreciates Dr. Pan’s ongoing work to move SB 730 through the legislative process, and the bill is now awaiting concurrence in the State Senate.