Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton and Sgt. Bob Andrzejczak sponsored to encourage schools to buy locally-sourced foods was approved by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-3219) would require school districts that contract for a supply of fruits, vegetables, dairy, poultry, seafood or other agricultural products to give preference to products grown, produced or processed in the county in which the school district is located.
“Local food is fresher, more nutritious and supports New Jersey farmers and their families, which means this legislation will fuel both young minds and local economies,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Building on the ideals behind our Farm to School program, this bill will help encourage lifelong local, healthy eating in our state.”
The legislation would establish a tiered-preference system for the purchase of agricultural products, giving first priority to products from within the same county as the school district. If products from within the county are more expensive or lower in quality than products from outside the county, preference would then go to products from anywhere in New Jersey. Products grown, produced or processed outside the state would not receive a preference.
“Our schools are where young people cultivate habits that hopefully will lead to academic success as well as overall wellness,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “This legislation will promote good eating habits and encourage future generations of New Jersey residents to support businesses in their communities, which, ultimately, will contribute to a healthier, stronger state.”
The measure was released Monday by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, of which Andrzejczak is chair.