Nutrition and Food Support in the Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, May 14 - Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) applauded inclusion of key nutrition, renewable energy, and food security provisions in a farm bill poised for final passage by the Senate later this week. The measure also expands the Milk Income Loss Contract Program crucial to Vermont dairy farmers.

Sanders championed a fresh-produce snack program. He helped to secure expanded support for wood as an energy resource. A nutrition education program that links schools with community gardens also was included at his request in the final bill.

"I am pleased that the farm bill supports essential nutrition and food programs for working families. It is important that we support community efforts to promote nutrition education in schools, access to affordable local produce, and sustainable forms of energy," said Sanders. "This legislation is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. I also am pleased that this bill begins to address the alarming needs of local food shelves and that my colleagues included important provisions to give access to and education on fresh, healthy produce to school children."

Sanders-supported provisions in The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 include:

· Fresh Produce for School Children - Senator Sanders pushed for an expansion of the existing produce pilot program to include Vermont. The bill will now expand the program nationwide. This provision would provide $1 billion over 10 years to be invested in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program, which would allow 3 million low-income children to benefit from the program.

· Nutrition Education Pilot Program - Under this Sanders provision, five states could receive support for initiatives at "high-poverty" schools to support hands-on gardening.

· Community Wood Energy - This Sanders and Leahy provision creates a program to provide grants to support wood energy systems that help meet community energy needs.

· Milk Income Loss Contract Program - Senator Sanders worked closely with Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch to secure this hugely important expansion.

· Support for Food Shelves - The farm bill would help address the struggles of food banks and food shelves by providing $1.26 billion over the next ten years, an increase that nearly doubles the current level of funding and which includes $50 million in 2008 to address immediate needs.

· Elimination of the "Enron Loophole" - This requires increased transparency in the oil, gas and energy markets and increases federal oversight and regulation of these markets to better detect and prevent fraud and manipulation that might affect the prices consumers, farmers and businesses pay for energy.

· Seniors' Farmers Market Coupons - Increases funding by $50 million over the next ten years for coupons for low-income seniors to purchase food from local farmers markets.

For more information on the farm bill, click here