More than 40 organizations are urging Congress to set aside $50 million in mandatory funding for farm to school programs as part of the reauthorization of child nutrition programs.

The outreach to Congress was reported in a news release from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which led the effort.

“Farm to school programs are cost effective and should be part of a robust child nutrition reauthorization that we hope will move soon,” said Kate Fitzgerald, senior policy associate at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, in a news release. The coalition is leading the effort.

Fitzgerald said farm to school programs have a track record of increasing growers’ incomes and boosting children’s nutrition and food knowledge.

Full House and Senate action on the child nutrition bill is anticipated later this year. The Senate Agriculture Committee passed a version of the child nutrition bill in late March that included $40 million in farm to school funding.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said in the release that a farm to school program was first authorized in the 2004 child nutrition act reauthorization, but funds were never appropriated.

Cathy Enright, vice president of government affairs for Western Growers’ Washington, D.C., office, said the farm to school program could contribute to increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and help expose children to fruits and vegetables they wouldn’t normally eat.

Enright said Western Growers believes any gains made with the program shouldn’t sacrifice other policy priorities of specialty crop producers. It’s unknown when Congress will consider the reauthorization of child nutrition programs.