Governor Signs Farm Legislation Impacting Students & Schools

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Governor Chris Christie signed several pieces of legislation related to students and schools August 7.  Among the bills signed was legislation establishing a Farm to School Coordinating Council and legislation establishing voluntary guidelines for K-12 school food waste.

Food Waste

The new law, P.L.2017, c.210 (A-3056), requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), in consultation with the Department of Agriculture (DOA), the Department of Education (DOE), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, to establish, or partner with appropriate nonprofit organizations to establish, voluntary guidelines for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste.  The DEP, the DOE, and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education would be required to post the guidelines on their websites.

The law also amends the Food Bank Good Samaritan Act to extend legal immunity to public and non-public schools that donate food that appears to be fit for human consumption at the time it is donated to a non-profit organization.

NJPSA supported the legislation as it moved through the legislative process.  The law is effective immediately.

Farm to School Coordinating Council

The Governor also signed, P.L.2017, c.211 (A-3058), which establishes the Farm to School Coordinating Council in the Department of Agriculture.  The council consists of five members as follows: the Secretary of Agriculture, or the secretary’s designee; the Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner’s designee; and three members of the public who have experience working with the New Jersey Farm to School Program, appointed by the Governor, one upon the recommendation of the President of the Senate and one upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the General Assembly.

The council is tasked with examining all areas of the New Jersey Farm to School Program and identifying any outstanding issues or problems that need to be resolved and areas in need of improvement.  The council is to focus on the procurement process relating to the purchase of agricultural products by schools from New Jersey farmers, and recommend ways to increase the participation of both farmers and schools in the program.  The council will also make recommendations on ways to promote and increase the use of fresh farm foods at schools throughout the State.