Garamendi introduces bill to make school meals ‘Buy American’ waivers public
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., recently reintroduced his bill to require a school food authority make publicly available any waiver of the “Buy American” requirements under the National School Lunch Program.
Garamendi said the bill would increase transparency so that parents are informed when students are served foreign-produced foods paid for by taxpayers.
Original co-sponsors are Reps. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio; Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.; Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.; Salud O. Carbajal, D-Calif.; Don Young, R-Alaska; and Derek Kilmer, D-Wash.
Garamendi’s legislation was introduced the same day President Biden issued an executive order to support Buy American policies by directing federal agencies to buy goods and services that are American-made to the extent possible.
“Even in Northern Californian and Central Valley farming communities, some school districts use taxpayer dollars to buy imported foods. Some of those imported foods have been recalled due to safety concerns when they could have been sourced locally in California,” said Garamendi. “That’s why my American Food for American Schools Act would ensure that our schoolchildren are served nutritious, American-grown foods that are produced under the strictest safety standards in the world.”
Under the bill, school districts would be required to obtain a waiver from the Agriculture Department to purchase foreign-sourced food products funded by the National School Lunch Program. Any such USDA waivers would only be granted if the domestically produced food was cost-prohibitive or simply unavailable. The bill would also require that school districts notify parents of all foreign-sourced foods served to students, by posting any such waivers obtained from the USDA on the school’s website. This would increase public transparency and provide American farmers an opportunity to seek out school districts that need affordable domestically grown foods, Garamendi said.
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