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Policy Update: New Urban Agriculture Ordinance and the Federal Childhood Hunger Program
Sep 25

Policy Update: New Urban Agriculture Ordinance and the Federal Childhood Hunger Program

By Deborah Backman, MPH Candidate, Department of Health Policy and Management, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

To increase awareness of children’s health and wellness initiatives, Phipps' Let’s Move Pittsburgh project provides Policy Update, a monthly column on local, state and national health policies that impact you.

Local: Pittsburgh Passes New Urban Agriculture Ordinance

On July 7, Pittsburgh passed a new ordinance making it easier and cheaper for city residents to raise chickens and goats and keep beehives. Under the previous ordinance, a resident interested in keeping animals or beehives had to pay $340 in fees and undergo a 10-12 week hearing in order to get the appropriate permit. Only about half of those who applied under this system were able to actually get permits. Additionally, residents were restricted to only three chickens or three ducks.

Now both homeowners and renters can get permits in twenty-four hours for just $70 by presenting a site plan for a structure to house their animals, such as a coop or apiary. The new ordinance outlines specific requirements for these structures. Additionally, residents living on properties of at least 2,000 square feet can now have chickens or ducks or two dehorned miniature goats, as well as two beehives.       

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that urban agriculture can increase access to fruits and vegetables and improve overall food security, especially in low-income communities. Urban agriculture projects in low-income neighborhoods like the Walnut Hills Growers Cooperative in West Philadelphia often sell produce to residents at affordable prices. Some research suggests that cities can achieve nearly all their food production needs for fresh produce, poultry, eggs, and honey through urban agriculture.

Read the full text of the ordinance here.

National: Senator Casey Advocates for Expanding Federal Childhood Hunger Program

On July 22, Senator Casey introduced the Access to Healthy Food for Young Children Act, which expands access to the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). CACFP provides healthy meals and snacks to children and adults at family child care homes, child care centers, Head Start programs, afterschool programs, and adult care centers. Under the current law, children in a family child care homes get food assistance through the program if 50 percent of the neighborhood is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch at school. Senator Casey’s bill would expand access to the program by changing this rule to 40 percent, allowing more children in low-income neighborhoods to benefit from this program. It would also provide funds to help United States Department of Agriculture, state agencies, and child care institutions to meet healthier CACFP meal standards under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

The bill would also allow child care facilities to be reimbursed for serving three meals to children who are there for at least eight hours and increase reimbursement rates for child care centers, family child care homes, and afterschool programs. Previously, child care facilities could only be reimbursed up to two meals per day per child for children who were there for at least eight hours.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. You can read the full text of the bill here.

Deborah Backman is an MPH candidate in the Department of Health Policy and Management of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.