HB 1542 attempts to address both dropout prevention and food security for low-income youth through a farm engagement pilot project. The pilot project would engage with community partners to provide an alternative high school program where low-income youth could earn credits toward high school graduation and receive youth development support and services as well as community service opportunities. Pilots would provide participating youth with opportunities for community service such as building food gardens for low-income families and work-based learning and employment during the school year and during the summer through a farm or garden program.
The pilot projects would last for a three-year period beginning in the 2017-18 school year and would receive state funds per student enrolled the full school year to offset any costs not covered by school and community organization. One of the selected projects must be located east of the crest of the Cascade Mountains and at least one must be located south of highway 12 and west of the crest of the Cascade Mountains. The office of the superintendent of public instruction would evaluate the results of the pilot projects and submit a report with recommendations to the legislature by December 1, 2019.