Bill Provides Low Cost Nutritional Food for Local Communities
During the 27th Legislature, I sponsored House Bill 93, "An act relating to school gardens, greenhouses, and farms," providing for funding of school growing programs through matching funds and a small percentage of annual operating support for school districts. It would enable community nonprofits to work with school systems to help ensure the long-term prospects for teaching, nutrition, and health programs that use school gardens, farms, or greenhouses. The food should be used in the district meal programs.
HB 93 would create a grant program for non-profits who operate school gardens at public schools and have raised operation funding in their communities. It would allow the state to provide an additional ½ of one percent of state aide to a school for the purposes of supporting a non-profit run school garden, farm or greenhouse.
This legislation made recognition of Alaska's problems with obesity and food security. By teaching young Alaskans how to grow their own healthy food in their own communities we can begin to ease both problems.
The school gardens currently in operation are producing more than 2,000 pounds of fresh produce per year for students to take home, school snacks, purchase by members of the community, and donations to local food banks. There is also a pilot project in Fairbanks to use the vegetables from school gardens in school lunches.
House Bill 93's intent was to provide low-cost fresh, nutritious vegetables for communities throughout Alaska with minimal impacts to the State Budget.