Grow Montana is committed to supporting initiatives that focus on local food procurement that encourages consumption of healthy Montana-grown food. That is why Grow Montana is sponsoring the Farm to School Bill in the 67th Legislative Session. Farm to School has many benefits for students, local producers and their communities, and school food service programs. And farm to school isn’t just in Montana – it is a national initiative with an expanding network of partners that provide insight into best practices and national impact. To learn more about the national impact of Farm to School, read the Benefits Fact Sheet: http://www.farmtoschool.org/Resources/BenefitsFactSheet.pdf
Farm to School implementation differs from school to school because it functions by community driven approaches. Currently, there is no state funding to support farm to school. The Farm to School Bill, sponsored by Grow Montana, would help secure state funding that would assist schools in beginning or expanding farm to school activities. Farm to school not only connects kids with locally grown food and food and nutrition education, it also helps foster more resilient food systems. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for farm to school as a way to solve food supply issues. Promoting locally grown and raised foods is one way to promote availability of fresh, healthy foods. Would you like to learn more about the impact of Farm to School practices in Montana? The 2019-2020 Montana Farm to School Annual Report is available at this link: https://www.montana.edu/mtfarmtoschool/documents/F2S19_AnnualReport.pdf
One of Grow Montana’s legislative priorities is providing funding for Farm to School activities. The Farm to School Bill would establish a grant program for schools to provide funding to begin or expand farm to school activities. Farm to School focuses on three main components: Procurement, Education, and School Gardens. To learn more about Montana Farm to School and how it benefits students and communities, visit Montana State University’s Farm to School website https://www.montana.edu/mtfarmtoschool/
Here is a great article about Double SNAP Dollars at Ravalli County Farmers Markets this past summer! Supporting The Double SNAP Dollars Bill to ensure state funding for this program will help continue making Double SNAP Dollars available for more people, improving healthy food access across the state while also supporting local farmers markets and their vendors! https://ravallirepublic.com/news/local/article_72d0168b-6b9a-5943-b90c-0508f7c91ece.html
This Legislative Session will have a big impact on those facing hunger in MT. That’s why Grow Montana is supporting the Bill Number that urges state investment in the Double SNAP Dollars Program that provides an opportunity to SNAP recipients to purchase more fruits and vegetables from local producers. You can read about the bill HERE.
22 Farmers Markets participated in the Double SNAP Dollars program in 2020! That is over a third of the farmers markets in the state! Grocery stores, farm stands, and CSA’s are also eligible to participate in Double SNAP Dollars as long as they are a SNAP certified establishment. Since 2015, over 6,000 customers have been served leading to increased fresh fruit and vegetable consumption and $440,000 has been spent on local foods, boosting Montana Farmers’ Income. Double SNAP Dollars is an important program that helps increase healthy food choices and supports the local Montana agriculture and small farms. This is why Grow Montana is supportive of this bill. To learn more about Double SNAP Dollars visit www.doubledollarsmt.com
Since 2005, Grow Montana has advocated for changes in state policies that would strengthen Montana’s food and agriculture economies. The coalition has since led projects on food systems research, producing education materials, and stewarded policy change to support Montana’s food producers.