New food purchasing programme in DC schools to improve animal welfare

USA, 4 December 2018 - The Council of the District of Columbia voted unanimously to pass the Healthy Students Amendment Act of 2018, which codifies into law the District’s implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP)
calendar icon 6 December 2018
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The programme, a brainchild of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council and the Center for Good Food Purchasing, prioritises sustainability, local economies and animal welfare. After kicking off in Los Angeles in 2012, it has since been adopted by several cities and school districts across the nation. In the District, it will provide healthier meals to thousands of students while also promoting higher-welfare living conditions for farm animals.

Before fully rolling out the GFPP, District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) is scheduled to complete a baseline assessment of its food purchasing practices by the end of this year. That assessment will guide the District’s goals for the following year.

The GFPP exemplifies five core values: environmental sustainability, supporting local economies, nutrition, valued workforce, and improving animal welfare. Regarding animal welfare, the GFPP requires that municipalities or school systems (1) contract with suppliers who participate in an approved third-party certification programme that verifies higher-welfare practices, and/or (2) replace a certain percentage of animal products with equivalent plant-based protein. The GFPP provides five-year target - depending on the entity’s size, budget and local supply chain - for increasing the amount of money spent on higher-welfare animal products or reducing the total volume of animal products purchased.

“Currently in the United States, the vast majority of farm animals are raised in industrialised, unsanitary warehouses, where they are packed in so densely they can barely move, said Alicia Prygoski, farm animal policy associate at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organisation. “The GFPP works to transition food procurement systems away from this inhumane status quo toward farming methods where the animals are able to roam, forage and socialise, which is clearly better for their welfare.”

Added Prygoski: “We look forward to seeing the positive effects of the GFPP here in the District, and to working with the Center for Good Food Purchasing and our coalition partners to expand the programme to other cities.”

AWI testified in support of the Healthy Students Amendment Act before the DC City Council in November of 2017, along with about 40 other individuals and organizations.

DCPS, enrolling more than 48,000 students, is the fifth school district nationwide to make the decision to adopt the GFPP, following Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and Chicago. Additional school districts and municipalities, including New York City, Denver and Austin, are in the process of adopting GFPP.

Ryan Johnson

Editor at The Poultry Site

Ryan worked in conservation from 2008 to 2017, during which time he operated a rainbow trout hatchery and helped to maintain public and protected green spaces in Canada for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. As editor of The Poultry Site, he now writes about challenges and opportunities in agriculture across the globe.

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