Update: Vermont Enacts Local Food Purchasing Incentive for Schools
$500,000 Appropriated for Year One
We have great news! Governor Scott has signed H.106 and the budget bill, which together included a Local Food Purchasing Incentive for Vermont schools, and $500,000 to fund the first year of this incentive.

This new law (now Act 67) creates an incentive program for Vermont schools to purchase locally produced foods for their school meal programs, based on the overall percentage of local food purchased. Because it was just enacted, we don’t know exactly how the incentive program will roll out, but we will keep you updated as we get details, and also let you know about opportunities for input if they are available. The bill language can be found here, beginning on p14.
Here’s what we know from the bill language:

In order to qualify for the incentive, a supervisory union will have to:
  • Develop a locally produced foods purchasing plan 
  • Designate a person to be the food coordinator for locally produced foods 
  • Develop a process for tracking the purchase of locally produced food
  • Submit an annual report to the Agency of Education, estimating the percentage of locally produced food purchased for its school meal program (already required)

The incentive will be tiered to allow schools to “ramp up” to higher levels of local purchasing:
  • 15¢ per reimbursable school lunch if the supervisory union purchases at least 15% locally produced food through the school meal program
  • 20¢ per reimbursable school lunch if the supervisory union purchases at least 20% locally produced food
  • 25¢ per reimbursable school lunch if the supervisory union purchases at least 25% locally produced food
“Locally produced foods” is defined by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets (VAAFM) in Act 129, excepting fluid milk. Milk already comprises over 15% of school food costs on average and is required to be served, so to incentivize new purchasing of Vermont products fluid milk has been excluded.

This victory was possible because of all of the work you all have done over the past many years - from building your Farm to School programs to talking with legislators to participating in Farm to School month activities to working out the nitty gritty details of local food purchasing. THANK YOU for all of this great work. This law is a giant step forward for our school meal programs and our farms and food producers. It will help to create new, reliable markets for farmers and food producers. 

The bill also included a new position at the Agency of Education in the Child Nutrition Program to help implement this program and also to work toward universal school meals, which we will continue to advocate for next year (there will be a task force between now and then to develop a proposal for legislators). 

Our work is not done, and we will be in touch with how you can continue to help get more local food into our schools and early childhood programs, but for now, take a moment to celebrate this huge victory!

All the best,
Project Director, Vermont FEED