LANSING — State Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) voted in favor of the School Aid budget bill, House Bill 4313, on Tuesday, June 20, citing his approval of the budget expanding its current support of school districts that purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables for school lunches in Washtenaw County. The School Aid and state general government budget bills that each passed the House on Tuesday, were signed into law by the governor Friday, July 14.

“I am extremely pleased that we were able to not only preserve this critical funding, but to increase and expand it to schools in Washtenaw County that desperately need this support,” Rep. Zemke said. “For too many students, the food they receive during lunch at school is the only decent meal they will eat all day. It is imperative that while we are helping our future generations earn an education, we are also allowing them to receive at least one healthy, balanced meal for the day. I am grateful that Washtenaw County community members brought this need for funding to my attention, and I am proud that we were able to provide them with this necessary support.”

In the 2017 fiscal year budget, there is currently $250,000 allocated for a pilot project that supports schools who purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for use in school lunches. Although this funding was initially cut altogether in the governor’s executive recommendation for the fiscal year 2018 budget, the funding was not only restored but ultimately increased to $375,000, and included funding for prosperity region 9, which includes Washtenaw County school districts.

“This program is a proven win-win, putting nutritious fresh food on student lunch plates and providing significant support to local farms,” said Michelle Deatrick, vice chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. “I am honored to have worked with community members and Rep. Zemke to strengthen the connection between farms and schools in Washtenaw County. As a mother and a representative of many family farms, I look forward to seeing our community rally behind future efforts to support farmers and improve nutrition for our children.”