(Washington Park) - Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is promoting the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act. It would expand markets for local farmers and producers while improving school lunches through the addition of more locally-grown fruits and vegetables. 

Brown (D-OH) joined local celebrity chef Doug Katz, a Geauga County farmer, and students at Washington Park Public High School to outline the measure. 

“Linking Ohio producers with Ohio consumers like schools and children is common sense,” said Brown. “By increasing access to fresh, local foods, we can expand markets for Ohio’s agricultural producers while improving health, creating jobs, and strengthening our economy.” 

With students working at their school’s greenhouse, Brown outlined how his bill would support ongoing Farm-to-School efforts and increase access to healthy foods with a program modeled on the Cuyahoga County’s Produce Perks program.

Produce Perks provides funding to help farmers build the infrastructure—like community kitchens—to process and sell their food locally, breaks down barriers so that schools can purchase local food more easily, and provides schools with a local school credit to purchase local foods.

“We are grateful to Senator Brown and our community partners for launching a Farm-to-School initiative that benefits both our students and the local economy,” Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric S. Gordon said. “We are also pleased that the Senator chose the greenhouse at Washington Park School as a backdrop for his news conference, to showcase our environmental studies academy at CMSD.”

Also participating in the press conference was Savery Rorimer, owner of Snake Hill Farms in Geauga County. He explained how Brown’s bill would help Ohio farmers sell their products directly to consumers and create jobs by assisting farmers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs.  

Brown and the students were also joined by Doug Katz, owner and executive chef of Fire Food & Drink, who has made local food central to his menus year-round, using ingredients from more than a dozen Ohio producers. 

Brown, the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than four decades, first introduced the bill in 2011 and successfully fought to have key provisions included in the Senate-passed 2012 farm bill.  

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(Copyright © 2013 by Clear Channel, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Sen. Sherrod Brown via Twitter.)