(Editor’s Note: A lot of people worked hard putting together LD 1431, and lots of people turned up to offer testimony in support of the bill, from a variety of sectors of business, education, health and school nutrition, and parents. It was really an example of democracy at work in a reasonable, thoughtful manner.
Access to good, nutritious food remains one of the hardest challenges to address systemically, which is why public policy can do more than any one of us can do on our own. Schools are limited in their budgets, as are many families and seniors. If we want to get high quality food to our vulnerable populations, these types of collaborative policy making need to happen.
LD 1431 ended up passing the Maine House and Senate, with broad based support. Governor LePage ended up vetoing it, for reasons inexplicable to me. There was an effort to get the votes to override the Governor’s veto, which heartbreakingly fell two votes shy.
This bill would have incentivized school food directors to purchase local food, with no limitations on what practices are included in the definition of local. There are many, many of us working on the piece to get good food to kids, who need it for their physical and cognitive development. Countless studies have also documented the links between proper nutrition, IQ, and in fact, future economic earning power. So no matter how one feels about politics, buying local, which has an economic multiplier effect, and investing in our children’s health and future opportunities seems like an easy thing to say ‘yes’ to, even for a business-minded Governor.
I still see it as the majority of the process working the way it’s supposed to, and it really let me see for the first time, legislation drafted in cooperation with both citizens and lawmakers, instead of the shoving that seems to happen so much from both politicians and constituents these days.
A small sliver of hope in some disappointing events…
This originally went out on January 23, 2014.
10 Things You Will Miss if Someone Else Buys them…
1. Katahdin Potatoes
2. Blackberries, frozen
4 . Parsnips
5. Maine Sea Salt (flavor/size flexibility advised)
6. Peppermint Gelato
7. Musque de Provence Pumpkins
8. Bosque Pears…I cannot believe how good they still are.
9. Lamb sausage from Crystal Spring
10. Chioggia Beets (beets are getting scarce, folks)…
A few sent in food history last week – ‘Tofu Jeff’ from Heiwa Soybeanery praised the sunchoke as the champion bottom of the barrel vegetables – maybe because in days past it was somehow less desired. These days it sells out all too quickly -mostly to restaurant tables. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a number of other items rapidly getting to the depths of their barrels…snatch ’em up!
What Mainer’s will do in the future to build the supply of food year round is on the minds of eaters and politicians alike. This week’s events include several legislative initiatives designed to help Maine farmers, food producers, and food processors propel our work forward. You can read one of these bills HERE. You can read my testimony HERE. This bill proposes direct support for school nutrition training and puts some money directly into the hands of the foodservice directors to purchase local food. It also suggests funding for food hub feasibility studies and implementation grants to accelerate the local food movement. Take a moment to contact your legislators about the bill – whether you support or oppose – it strengthens the depth of the discussion about our food system and what needs to happen next. Scale matters, so make your voices heard.
Our tricks to keep the bottom of the barrel exciting from years gone by is interesting to me – but not nearly as interesting as increasing the capacity (in more than barrels) to feed ourselves well, year round.