January 28, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) reintroduced the American Food for American Schools Act to strengthen “Buy American” requirements under the National School Lunch Program. Garamendi's bipartisan bill would also increase transparency so that parents are informed when students are served foreign-produced foods paid for by taxpayers.
Original cosponsors: Marcy Kaptur (D-OH09), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE01), Tim Ryan (D-OH13), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA01), Salud O. Carbajal (D-CA24), Don Young (R-AK), Derek Kilmer (D-WA06)
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. Garamendi has championed Buy American and Make It In America policies with his Democratic colleagues throughout his entire tenure in Congress.
“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.
“This legislation also supports the Biden Administration’s strong actions to advance Buy American policies that will support our middle class and generate a much-needed economic stimulus for our country. I thank President Biden for the executive action he’s taking today, and I will continue to support his efforts through my work in Congress,” Garamendi concluded.
The bipartisan American Food for American Schools Act strengthens the “Buy American” provisions in current federal law requiring school districts to purchase domestically sourced products for in-school meals. Under the bill, school districts would be required to obtain a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 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. Congressman Garamendi’s 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.