March 22, 2024

Wyden, Colleagues Introduce EAT Local Foods Act

Senator says legislation would help fight hunger and support local farming, fishing and food producers

Washington, D.C. —  U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said today he has joined Senate colleagues in introducing legislation that would create a permanent grant program for state and tribal governments to use local food producers for hunger relief programs. 

Wyden said the EAT Local Foods Act would increase access to locally-sourced, fresh, healthy, and nutritious food in underserved communities and help family farmers, fishermen, and local food producers grow their markets.

“It is incredibly important that hungry people in Oregon and across the nation have the support they need to feed their families,” Wyden said. “The EAT Local Foods Act helps fight hunger and connects communities to producers they depend on while supporting their local economies.”

During the COVID pandemic, Congress made $900 million available for USDA food purchasing efforts through the Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement Program that the bill is modeled after.  Using those program funds, states set up approved programs to buy food produced within the state or within 400 miles of delivery destination, which was then distributed through food banks, pantries, and other food distribution centers.

"The EAT Local Foods Act not only supports food security in our communities today but also paves the way for a hunger-free tomorrow by supporting local farmers, fishers and growers — transforming our food systems," said Susannah Morgan, Oregon Food Bank President. "With over 1.9 million visits to food assistance sites last year alone, government investments like these are vital in our collective mission to end hunger and its root causes."

The letter was led by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I..) Along with Wyden, the bill was also cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Laphonza R. Butler (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Angus King (I-Maine), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).