Notes from the Field



With over 1800 bills introduced since January, the Rhode Island General Assembly is running full speed towards the end of session now. RIFPC’s bill tracker is currently following more than 135 pieces of legislation that may impact our food system. A little less than 4 months remain in this legislative year, and there is much still to do in order to bring key legislation over the finish line.

Our Work Group members have been hard at work advocating for policy solutions that will strengthen our local food system. In the last month, different Work Groups hosted legislative roundtables on key topics—active farmland preservation, food donation tax incentives, and healthy school meals for all. Legislators from across the state joined us to learn more about our Work Group’s priorities and policy solutions.

Because of our network’s interest, we continue to closely monitor some key policies related to farmland, food donation, and school meals. Learn more about those bills below:


Introduced by Rep. Cortvriend and Sen. Valverde respectively, these two bills would expand Rhode Island’s current Food Waste Ban. The proposed changes would require that qualifying entities generating more than 52/tons of food waste per year and are located less than 30 miles from an authorized composting or anaerobic digestion facility to recycle that food waste. HB5171 was heard before the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee in early February. At that time, the Committee held the measure for further study and has not scheduled the measure for additional hearing or consideration. The Senate companion legislation was referred to the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee in mid-February, but has not yet been heard by the committee. While currently at a standstill, our Wasted Food Sub-Work Group continues to advocate on behalf of the legislation—including leading a plenary session at the Rhode Island College Compost Conference in early March.


These two bills were Introduced by Rep. McEntee and Sen. DiMario respectively. HB5803 and SB517 would provide a tax credit for food donation by qualified taxpayers to nonprofit organizations. This legislation has been referred to the Finance Committee of the respective chamber, but neither bill has been heard before the committees. Our Wasted Food Sub-Work Group is supporting our elected officials to understand the importance and impact that this legislation would have for the 31% of Rhode Islanders struggling with food insecurity.


These two pieces of legislation introduced by Rep. Tanzi and Sen. Acosta, respectively, would provide free breakfast and lunch to be provided for all elementary school and secondary school students attending public schools in the state. Both bills have been referred to a committee in their respective chambers. However, neither the House Finance nor Senate Education Committees have scheduled this legislation for hearing. Nonetheless, our Food Access Work Group and partners around the state continue to raise the alarm on the importance of this legislation, especially as federal, pandemic-era assistance is fading.


Introduced just last week by Rep. McGaw and Sen. DiPalma respectively, these joint resolutions would appropriate $5 million dollars to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for farmland preservation, protection, and conservation. Our Active Farmland Sub-Work Group has been hard at work advocating for a resolution of this nature given the many benefits that our local farms provide and the fact that Rhode Island’s farmland protection program (the Agricultural Land Preservation Commission) is almost out of funding. Both resolutions have been referred to their chamber’s Finance Committee. Our members look forward to seeing these resolutions brought before the Committees in the coming weeks.


Look to our bill tracker each week for more updates! If you are interested in working on some or all of the key legislation we are tracking, join one of our work groups.