(1) Subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose, the office of the superintendent of public instruction may coordinate with the department of agriculture to promote and facilitate new and existing regional markets programs, including farm-to-school initiatives established in accordance with RCW 15.64.060
, and small farm direct marketing assistance in accordance with RCW 15.64.050
. In coordinating with the department of agriculture, the office of the superintendent of public instruction is encouraged to provide technical assistance, including outreach and best practices strategies, to school districts with farm-to-school initiatives.
(2) Subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose, the regional markets programs of the department of agriculture must be a centralized connection point for schools and other institutions for accessing and sharing information, tools, ideas, and best practices for purchasing Washington-grown food.
(a) In accordance with this subsection (2), program staff from the department of agriculture may provide:
(i) Scale-appropriate information and resources to farms to help them respond to the growing demand for local and direct marketed products; and
(ii) Targeted technical assistance to farmers, food businesses, and buyers, including schools, about business planning, access to markets, product development, distribution infrastructure, and sourcing, procuring, and promoting Washington-grown foods.
(b) In accordance with this subsection (2), program staff from the department of agriculture may provide technical assistance to:
(i) Support new and existing farm businesses;
(ii) Maintain the economic viability of farms;
(iii) Support compliance with applicable federal, state, and local requirements; and
(iv) Support access and preparation efforts for competing in markets that are a good fit for their scale and products, including schools and public institutions, and direct-to-consumer markets that include, but are not limited to, farmers markets, local retailers, restaurants, value-added product developments, and agritourism opportunities.
(3) Subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose, the regional markets programs of the department of agriculture may support school districts in establishing or expanding farm-to-school initiatives by providing information and guidance to overcome barriers to purchasing Washington-grown food. In accordance with this subsection (3), regional markets program activities may include, but are not limited to:
(a) Connecting schools and other institutions with farmers and distribution chains;
(b) Overcoming seasonality constraints;
(c) Providing budgeting assistance;
(d) Navigating procurement requirements; and
(e) Developing educational materials that can be used in cafeterias, classrooms, and in other educational environments.
(4) Subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose, school districts and other institutions may coordinate with the department of agriculture to promote and facilitate new and existing farm-to-school initiatives. School district representatives involved in these initiatives may include, but [are] not limited to, school nutrition staff, purchasing staff, student representatives, and parent organizations.
(5) Subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose, the office of the superintendent of public instruction may award grants to school districts to collaborate with community-based organizations, food banks, and farms or gardens for reducing high school dropout occurrences through farm engagement projects. Projects established by school districts that receive grants in accordance with this section must:
(a) Primarily target low-income and disengaged youth who have dropped out or who are at risk of dropping out of high school; and
(b) Provide participating youth with opportunities for:
(i) Performing community service, including, but not limited to, building food gardens for low-income families, and work-based learning and employment during the school year and summer through farm or garden programs;
(ii) Earning core and elective credits applied toward high school graduation, including but not limited to, science, health, and career and technical education credits;
(iii) Receiving development support and services, including social and emotional learning, counseling, leadership training, and career and college guidance; and
(iv) Improving food security for themselves and their community through the project.