Bill would allow Arizona students to grow food at school

PHOENIX (AP) — Proposed legislation that would allow public schools to grow their own food and enjoy the fruits of their labor is drawing support from both sides of the aisle.

Republican Sen. David Farnsworth is planning to push a proposal exempting public and private schools from health codes when it comes to eating from campus gardens, according to The Arizona Capitol Times (http://bit.ly/1YAj3Sp).

Farnsworth, of Mesa, said he has already pre-filed legislation for the upcoming legislative session.

He said the law currently exempts only child-care facilities from health code regulations on food that is prepared on site for immediate consumption.

The bill fits with Farnsworth’s ongoing theme of legislation aimed at promoting self-sufficiency and emergency preparedness.

“My desire is to push back against the overreach of government in all areas, especially in the areas of property rights and food production. If there’s a major crisis and the grocery stores go empty, people are going to starve because they don’t know how to grow anything,” he said.

Democratic Sen. Steve Farley of Tucson has already offered to co-sponsor the bill, though he is more focused on the health and sustainability aspects of the bill.

Farley said applying health codes makes no sense when trying to teach children about growing food and eating healthy.

“It’s really a counterintuitive thing,” he said. “We’re trying to get kids to eat healthy. and they can eat it if it’s a whole tomato for example. But the moment someone puts a knife through that tomato to slice it, it becomes prepared food and it has to go through all the health code regulations.”

Though the two senators are coming at the issue from different points of view, Farley said the common ground was a happy coincidence.

“It underlines the point that seems to be harder to see these days when we have so much polarization, that we actually have more in common than the stuff that divides us,” he said. “I think this is one of those areas where we can all come together.”

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Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, http://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com

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