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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Committee on Education and the Workforce
    IntroducedFebruary 28th, 2017

What is it?

This bill would require school food authorities (SFAs) to request a waiver from the Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) to purchase foreign commodities or products for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Waivers could only be granted if: 1) domestic commodities or products aren’t produced in sufficient amounts or of satisfactory quality; 2) domestic commodities or products would be significantly higher in price; and 3) the SFA agrees to make the waiver publicly available on its website and email a notification to parents or guardians of students who will be served the foreign commodity or product.

Under current law, Buy American provisions require SFAs to buy domestic commodities or products for the NSLP to the maximum extent possible. There are limited exceptions permitting the purchase of foreign products or commodities if using domestic products isn’t truly practicable, but there is no requirement to request a waiver — the SFA only needs to keep documentation justifying the exception.

Impact

Students in the NSLP and their families; domestic and foreign producers of commodities and goods that are purchased by school food authorities; and the USDA.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) introduced this bill to bring more accountability and to the Buy American provisions of the National School Lunch Act:

“Northern California produces some of the highest quality food in the world, unfortunately school districts too often look elsewhere to provide students with foreign food that is not held to the same standards of safety and quality. The Buy American provisions of the National School Lunch Act were created to provide students with foreign food that is not held to the same standards of safety and quality. The Buy American provisions of the National School Lunch Act were created to ensure our children enjoy fresh, local produce instead of potentially less healthy alternatives from overseas. This bill increases transparency for schools who request a waiver to use foreign products in school lunches and helps to ensure our tax dollars are used to buy American produce and to support American agriculture.”

Original cosponsor Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) added:

“One of the best ways to make sure our kids have local produce is to enforce the existing Buy American provisions of the National School Lunch Act. These provisions are designed to ensure taxpayer dollars support U.S. jobs and businesses, and they have the added benefit of increasing the amount of American-grown food our children enjoy through the school lunch program. We have seen too many instances of school districts, including some in my district, importing foreign food unnecessarily without the proper disclosure. Recently, we’ve even seen recalls of imported foods owing to disease outbreaks when that same produce could have been sourced locally right here in California, subject to the highest food safety standards in the world.”

This legislation has the support of 21 bipartisan cosponsors, including 12 Democrats and nine Republicans.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Steve Debenport / iStock)

AKA

American Food for American Schools Act of 2017

Official Title

To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to require a school food authority to make publicly available any waiver of the Buy American requirement, and for other purposes.

    OMG, do any Trump haters actually read the bills? As it stands now, school programs are buying less safer products from overseas. No, this administration didn’t create another law against their deregulation agenda. This bi-partisan bill only deems that schools must now ask for a waiver, making it transparent, as to why they are not buying American food products. So again, your hatred of Trump colors your thinking... you care more about getting Trump out of office than about our children and their safety! And although this is a federal food program, and not a state program as it stands now, whether it could become a state’s one is a question for another day. And, if Trump had completely deregulated this program, you’d all be screaming that he’s trying to kill our children!
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    Let’s not make it more difficult to feed our kids at school. We don’t need this red tape at the federal level. If a state wants to force their education system to use local product, then the state can make the law. In California and in the Pacific Northwest, where nutritious food is grown locally and is very high-quality, this law makes sense, but ONLY at a state level because the West Coast is unique in that regard. Making this a federal law forces many states that cannot provide quality products en masse to pay a lot more and those states are the ones who are at least able to do so, where more children need the security of school-based nutrition, and where the education funding is at its lowest. We cannot put another roadblock in the way of the children of “flyover” states, just to sell more California agriculture to the public school system. If California is trying to sell more California agriculture to California schools, fine, let them make a state law. Either way, this doesn’t belong to the federal level. The USA does not produce enough of all kinds of food in every season of the year in order to supply food to every school in the country. That just doesn’t jive with reality. I’m a progressive liberal from the PNW, but this is just a bad idea. This disproportionately hurts the central states where the education systems can’t afford more economic damage. As a Washington resident, I would rather feed more kids in the poor central states than sell more apples and asparagus and feed fewer kids. Remember, it’s not the children’s fault they live there.
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    The USA does not produce enough of all kinds of food in every season of the year in order to supply food to every school in the land. This is nothing more than political interference in normal everyday lives of Americans. Plus it will add more cost for schools
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    I believe this should be controlled at the state and not the Federal level. States have different levels of access to different foods, what is good for Maine may not work for Alaska.
    Like (22)
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    Support US producers as much as possible and use foreign as little as possible.
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    No, schools should have to request a waiver to serve overly processed, sugar filled, dye filled, fake food instead of real vegetables and healthy food.
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    Yes definitely, I want American kids to have the best and safest food at school to eat period.
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    I will vote NO on foreign food wavers for our school lunch system. Sure, domestic foods may cost more, but domestic producers are supported, not foreign governments and business. As an afterthought, under what Constitutional Amendment supports National School Food Programs? None! Just another socialist program to create Federal Dependency.
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    This is an issue to be handled at the state level and on an individual basis. For example Governor Ivey of Alabama likely has very different concerns than Governor Walker of Alaska. Seems like a power grab to force some states to pay unnecessary regulatory fees from their meager education budget.
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    Can someone please tell me where the responsible adults with a brain are being held? These are our children, the future of this country and if this planet. Can’t the local governments work with the farmers, grocery stores, or food distributors to get better pricing on local, fresh, healthy food? If the Republicans who put forth a bill that has no cost analysis at this time or no plan of action, then why and how is this even being considered and voted on. Do what you are supposed to do and take care you of the people within your districts. Maybe stop the tax cuts in these major corporations, make them pay a higher tax and take care of the people for a change.
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    Buy American unless there is no alternative
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    This should be handled at the state level. There are a lot of areas of the country where local produce is difficult to obtain or prohibitively expensive. These states, with smaller taxpayer bases or no state income tax at all, may not be able to afford it. The federal government should stay out of it.
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    If we pass this, we're have to guarantee schools have the money to buy domestic. Our goods aren't necessarily exempt from recall.
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    First they should be focusing on giving healthier meals to students, as a homeschooled student/ past public school student I know that I can eat a lot healthier without that unhealthy school meals. This may not effect kids right away at our age but it comes back to bite humans in the ass, no offense but you older generation is obese and it is going to carry on to mine. Nothing is being done about it. First Lady Michelle Obama was working on this and now we have stopped, this should be another priority beside the other hundreds of priorities.
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    Our local school lunch programs have been trying to make school lunch more popular by trying to adapt ethnic recipes & immigrant recipes from local communities & this has been popular w all the kids. I don't wan't some jingoistic buy american program to force my local lunch ladies to have to try to source U.S. grown tamarind paste or fish sauce or else close the program.
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    If the objective is to ensure schools are serving safe, healthy food to our children, then it should require food to be purchased from properly regulated sources. This falls under the purview of the FDA—not the USDA. This bill is an attempt to prop up the American agriculture industry at the expense of already-cash-strapped school systems.
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    This sounds like an obvious money racket. And will only do more harm than good. Why is this even an issue to debate when there are more pressing issues that need serious attention?
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    States should decide what the standards should be for the food allowed in their schools.
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    How stupid can we get. I buy cherry tomatoes in Walmart and Market Basket and even look for USA grown and they are seldom available. So if a school went to Walmart they would need a waiver most of the time. Lot of fruit and vegetables are grown in Mexico and shipped to USA. NAFTA is still in effect.
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    Another waste of taxpayers money.Don’t we have better ways to spend our time and money . We should buy the most healthy and if possible the most locally grown food and supplies possible. If not buy the highest quality available.
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