Championed by Bay Area Democratic Reps. George Miller of Martinez and Lynn Woolsey of Petaluma, as well as a coalition of celebrity chefs appalled by the poor quality of school lunches, the $4.5 billion, 10-year legislation would increase nutritional standards in all federal food programs and eliminate junk food and soda from school campuses nationwide, following California's lead over the past decade.

Indeed the legislation takes into the national mainstream Berkeley food guru Alice Waters' once-radical school gardening concept by including $40 million in mandatory funding for a program to encourage schools to buy food from local farms and start their own gardens.

It also provides a 6-cents-per-lunch boost to schools, along with a welter of other provisions nudging schools to improve the nutritional value of the meals they provide. The funding is just half of what President Obama initially requested, but nutrition experts said it's a significant boost to the amount the federal government pays schools now, which ranges from 26 cents to $2.72, depending on parents' income. California will receive an extra $34.5 million a year from the bill.

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