Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

California Joins White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities

State’s commitment to expanding healthy food access includes universal school meals for public school students and the California Farm to School program

WASHINGTON – Building on California’s innovative initiatives to combat food insecurity, California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) today announced California’s commitment to the White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities – a part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. Representatives from the Office of the First Partner and CDFA Secretary Karen Ross joined a ceremony at the White House today alongside leaders working to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030.

“As the first state in the U.S. to implement universal school meals, California is deeply committed to ending hunger and food insecurity, and we’re proud to join other leaders in this nationwide call to action,” said First Partner Siebel Newsom. “Through our nation-leading Farm to School Program and other efforts to expand access to high-quality, healthy foods, our state is continuing this important work to cultivate a healthier, more equitable California for all.”

“It was an honor to be at the White House celebrating our burgeoning California Farm to School program made possible by the leadership of California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom,” CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said. “With the partnership of Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Bacerra and senior administration officials, we’re excited for the momentum of our California program to offer a model to the nation of Farm to School building healthy communities.” 

The state is reaffirming its commitment to using California Farm to School to realize a California where every student receives nutritious school meals made with California-grown produce and has access to quality food education resources. California Farm to School programming currently reaches over 1.5 million students. CDFA and the Office of the First Partner are aggressively pursuing additional opportunities by working together with school administrators, producers, and growers to broaden California Farm to School’s reach to up to 80% of all California students by 2030.

The White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities called public and private sector organizations and communities to make bold and impactful commitments to one or more of the five pillars in the National Strategy. 

California Farm to School Incubator Program applications are being accepted now through April 4, 2024, and will award up to $52.8 million in competitive grants to support projects that cultivate equity, nurture students’ physical and mental health, build climate resilience, and create scalable and sustainable change.

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