SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The state wants to test out a program to use organic ingredients in all school lunches.

Assembly Bill 958 would create the California Organic-to-School Pilot Program and would be run through the Secretary of Food and Agriculture’s Office of Farm to Fork. That department would give grants to school districts so they could buy certified organic food from California. To qualify, districts would need to participate in the federal National School Lunch Program or federal School Breakfast Program.

The State Department of Education would determine which school districts would get the grant money, and how much they would get. Priority would be given to districts that meet the following criteria, as stated in the bill:

  • Serve the highest percentage of children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals under the federal National School Lunch Program or federal School Breakfast Program.
  • Are located in close proximity to agricultural production.
  • Offer universally free school meals.
  • Participate in the federal Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables.

California provides 38% of the nation’s organic farm sales, according to data compiled in 2016.

Millions of low-income students in California rely on school lunches as their primary food and nutrition source. Many of those students don’t have access to organic food due to cost and availability.

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