Harder, Van Drew Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Farmers, Kids in Need During Coronavirus

April 21, 2020
Press Release
Current Bureaucratic Requirement Makes It Difficult for Parents to Pick up Produce

WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Josh Harder (CA-10) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02) introduced the Fresh Produce for Kids in Need Act to help farmers get their produce to kids in need during the Coronavirus crisis. The bill would suspend a bureaucratic requirement that prevents parents from picking up fresh produce from elementary schools on behalf of their children. Students typically get access to the free fruits and vegetables at school through a federal program. Since schools are closed, parents of kids enrolled in the program are allowed to pick up fresh produce, but their children must be in attendance. This extra bureaucratic requirement makes it harder for parents to get the produce on the way home from work and risks exposing children to the Coronavirus.

“This bill is just an obvious step to take – it provides more consumers for fresh fruit and vegetable growers and gives families in need access to healthy food,” said Rep. Harder. “Farmers are hurting through this pandemic – we need to do everything we can to help them get through it.” 

“There should be no obstacle in place for our kids to have access to the nutritious food they need to grow up healthy and thriving,” said Rep. Van Drew. “This is a win-win piece of legislation for our students and our farmers.”

“Maintaining kids’ access to fresh fruit and vegetables is as important now as it ever was. We thank Congressmen Harder and Van Drew for recognizing the need to eliminate any barriers faced by the truly heroic school nutrition professionals working to get fresh produce to students during this unprecedented time,” said Tom Stenzel, President & CEO, United Fresh Produce Association.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act eased many of the usual requirements associated with childhood nutrition programs, but the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) was not included. This bill would fix that omission and make it easier for parents to get fresh food for their kids while providing more consumers for fruit and vegetable farmers.