North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Rep. Larsen visits local schools, manufacturers


Christopher Andersson

Rep. Rick Larsen, center right, and Pinewood Elementary lunch manager Lori Nunley, right, serve lunch to Pinewood Elementary third graders, from front to back, Jayden Orr, Braeden Hill and Nizhoni Slowman.

U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen came to visit Marysville and Arlington on March 30 to look at Marysville School District's lunch program and local Arlington manufacturers.

Marysville School Lunches

Larsen donned a pair of plastic gloves to help serve lunch at Totem Middle School and Pinewood Elementary, and took a break for lunch to eat some of Pinewood's food as well.

"Food service is very important to maintain a nutritious and beneficial diet for our children," he said.

School districts across the nation receive funds from the federal government to help pay for their food programs, which is why he likes to see some of the local programs up close, he said.

Despite that federal money, funding remains one of the biggest obstacles to providing quality meals to students, he said.

"We want fresh fruit and vegetables but those are usually more expensive than processed. But there's better overall nutrition from those fresh fruits and they are better for students in the long-term," Larsen said.

Larsen also talked about a recent bill he is co-sponsoring, the Summer Meals Act of 2015, which he hopes will allow more school districts to provide summer meal programs for students in need.

The pilot project is meant to make sure kids in need have the same access to food during the summer as they do during the school year when school lunches are available every day.

Outback Power Visit

Larsen visited Arlington company Outback Power, which develops and manufactures battery systems that help turn solar power into energy that is usable for a person's home.

He said Outback Power represents many of the local manufacturers in the area that work on green energy or sustainable products, like Marysville's Silicon Energy which produces solar panels or Arlington's microGREEN which produces sustainable cups.

For companies like Outback Power and Silicon Energy, opening up their market to broader horizons remains the toughest challenge, he said.

"The challenge in solar is being able to get into markets outside the U.S. and break down those barriers for these companies," Larsen said.

Federal tax credits which make solar products more attractive to customers also make the market less predictable, said Larsen, because they have to be renewed every one or two years by the U.S. Congress, he said.

"There is uncertainty working with these sustainability tax credits that makes it tough for these manufacturers to plan into the future," Larsen said.


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