Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2499
By: Moreno, Joe
State Affairs


Community food gardens provide families who do not own land a place to
garden and an opportunity to grow fresh and nutritious food to supplement
family incomes and increase food security.  These gardens may also increase
families' knowledge of food sources and nutrition, increase participation
in local community projects, improve and enhance the diet of low-income
families, improve skills in problem-solving, teamwork, conflict resolution
and leadership skills, and strengthen ties to businesses, schools,
community agencies, and community gardens.   

In 1994, the General Land Office identified 118 tracts of unused or
underutilized state real property comprising nearly 25,000 acres.  Some of
the underutilized property may be suitable for use as community food
gardens and farmers markets.  H.B. 2499 establishes the Community Nutrition
Task Force to coordinate and implement a community food garden and farmers
market program using underutilized state land for the benefit of low-income
and needy families.  This bill also requires the Texas Youth Commission and
the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to participate in the program. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


SECTION 1.  Amends Subtitle G, Title 10, Government Code, by adding Chapter
2312, as follows: 

Sec. 2312.001.  TASK FORCE; PURPOSE.  Establishes the Community Nutrition
Task Force (task force) to coordinate and implement a community food
production and farmers market program using underutilized state land or
other appropriate state-owned property for the benefit of low-income and
needy families.  
Sec. 2312.002.  COMPOSITION OF TASK FORCE.  Sets forth the composition of
the task force.  
the General Land Office (office) to identify underutilized state property
that is subject to the office's authority under Subchapter E (Real Property
Accounting and Management), Chapter 31, Natural Resources Code, and that is
suitable for the establishment of a community food garden or farmers
Sec. 2312.004.  ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMUNITY FOOD GARDENS.  Requires the task
force to select suitable state property identified by the office or other
appropriate state-owned property for the establishment by the task force of
community food gardens. Requires each state agency or service on the task
force to provide resources, information, and staff support for the
establishment of the community food gardens.   Requires agencies, services,
and organizations that are members of the task force to, under the
coordination of  the task force: 

_identify community groups, nonprofit organizations, local government
agencies, and persons in communities near the  gardens that will be helpful
in establishing the gardens; 
_work with community groups to develop a community food garden plan and to
identify the resources necessary to implement the plan; and  

_teach youths and adults in communities near the gardens the basics of
gardening for food, the basics of nutrition, and how that knowledge
benefits their health and economic security.  
Sec. 2312.005.  FOOD GROWN IN GARDENS.  Prohibits food grown in community
food gardens from being sold for individual profit,  but authorizes it to
be donated or sold with the proceeds of the sales used to benefit the
continued operation of the gardens.  
CRIMINAL JUSTICE; COMMUNITY SERVICE.  Requires the Texas Youth Commission
(commission) and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (department) to
participate in the program by encouraging when feasible the planting of
community gardens at residential or correctional facilities under the
commission's or department's jurisdiction.  Requires one-half of the food
grown at a participating facility to be used by the facility and the other
half to be donated to a nonprofit food bank or kitchen that serves persons
at risk for hunger. Authorizes a juvenile or adult required by a court to
perform hours of community service to be allowed to credit hours worked in
any community garden established under this chapter toward the required
number of community service hours.  
Sec. 2312.007.  FARMERS MARKETS.  Authorizes the task force to select
suitable underutilized state property on which an association of farmers or
a nonprofit organization approved by the task force may establish a farmers
market for the purpose of selling locally grown fresh produce directly to
consumers, if the task force determines that this would increase food
security in the area, and the area is not already served by a for-profit
farmers market. Authorizes the office to lease the land to the association
or organization for a nominal amount for this purpose.  
Sec. 2312.008.  TRANSACTIONS RELATED TO LAND.  Authorizes the office, if
necessary and on behalf of the task force, the state, and any affected
state agency, to execute leases, contracts, or other transactions related
to land to accomplish the purposes of this chapter.  Provides that the
procedures of Subchapters E and I (Real Estate Transaction Not Authorized
by Legislature), Chapter 31, Natural Resources Code, do not apply to the
leases, contracts, or other transactions.  
Sec. 2312.009.  INFORMATION ABOUT PROGRAM.  Requires the Texas Agricultural
Extension Service to include periodically revised information about the
task force's program, when appropriate, as part of the service's own
Sec. 2312.010.  REPORT.  Requires the task force, not later than October 1
of each year, to report the results of its efforts to the governor,
lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house of representatives.  

SECTION 2.  Emergency clause.
  Effective date: upon passage.