Dr. Pan Bill to Help Schools Comply with Federal “Buy American” Law Passes Assembly Education Committee

SB 730 supports federal requirements for schools to purchase domestically produced foods

July 12, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Senate Bill 730, which would require the California Department of Education (CDE) to monitor compliance of the Buy American provision of the National School Lunch Program, passed the Assembly Education Committee today on a vote of 5 to 0. 

“Our farmers and ranchers meet some of the highest worker protection and environmental standards in the world and produce high-quality and healthful food,” said Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and Senator representing the Sacramento region. “Our students deserve to benefit from the quality of American agriculture and California schools should support our farmers.”

In 1998, Congress added a provision to federal law requiring schools to purchase domestically produced food products for school lunches. Unfortunately, there is limited enforcement of this provision, which has led to schools purchasing imported food products to serve to their students.

SB 730 will create a monitoring mechanism at the California Department of Education to apply the Buy American requirement of the William F. Goodling Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act. Under the federal law, schools and institutions that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) are required to purchase domestically grown and processed foods to the maximum extent practicable.

Under SB 730, the CDE would be required inform school districts of the Buy American provisions of the law and requires that information be made available online, including the Buy American requirements and best practices, which provides transparency to schools and parents.

"California farmers achieve the most ambitious goals in the nation to ensure food safety, reduce environmental impacts, protect the health of the workers and provide the highest farm wages in the nation," said Tricia Geringer, VP of Government Affairs at Agricultural Council of California. “When we support our famers and producers that adhere to these regulations, we demonstrate that we truly believe in them.  Spending taxpayer dollars to source food products for our children that are grown and processed under very different standards does not comport with our priorities.”

To be considered a domestic product, the food must be produced and processed in the U.S. with over 51 percent of the final processed product consisting of domestic agricultural commodities.

Recent incidents by some California public school districts have demonstrated that the Buy American requirements are not being followed on a consistent basis. 

# # #