ALBANY — New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced that sixteen programs have been awarded over $1.48 million in funding through New York’s Farm-to-School program. Awarded programs across New York serve students in kindergarten through grade 12 and operate in both school districts and through not-for-profit partner organizations. Funding provided through the Farm-to-School program helps schools connect with local farmers, increase the use of locally grown food on school menus, and improve student health, while providing increased economic benefits to New York’s farmers. This announcement builds on Governor Hochul’s State of the State commitment to better connect farms and schools across New York, including transferring the administration of the National School Lunch Program to the Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Commissioner Ball said, “New York State’s Farm-to-School program helps schools overcome some of the challenges they may face in sourcing products locally, and makes it easier for them to increase the use of New York grown foods straight from the farm. The projects awarded today will help to ensure that our students have access to fresh, healthy foods, increase students’ understanding of where their meals come from, and benefit our local agricultural economies statewide. I’m excited to see these projects come to fruition and look forward to continued connections between New York’s schools and farmers moving forward.”
New York’s Farm-to-School program promotes the purchase and use of New York State grown food in meals served in cafeterias of K-12 schools. With over 700 school districts in New York State, there is great opportunity to see the many benefits of farm to school programs expand across the State, including preparing children to learn; improving student health and well-being; strengthening the local economy; and building healthy communities. Additionally, the program helps schools and farms address the challenges that make procuring, storing, and serving local food difficult. Challenges faced by schools include a lack of equipment to store and prepare fresh, minimally processed foods; a lack of access to farms that sell directly to schools, finding distributors that carry New York products; and many more.
Projects awarded across the state include:
- Capital Roots, $100,000: This project will support distribution of local foods to schools by creating aggregation points in the region to serve school districts outside of Capital Roots’ direct service footprint, and to support farm-to-school programs that lack sufficient food distribution services.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Albany County, $100,000: This project will increase the volume and variety of New York State farm products purchased by two school districts to be served in their elementary, middle, and high school meal programs.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County, $99,871: This program will increase the volume and variety of New York-grown food products purchased by school food authorities across the nine-county region that includes Cayuga, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego counties.
- Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego Board of Cooperative Education Services (DCMO BOCES), $99,981: This project will distribute a new local tomato sauce that will be featured in all local districts. Project partners will also process and distribute one lightly processed produce item that will be featured on NY Thursday menus across the districts weekly.
- Attica Central School District, $100,000: Attica Central School District will implement periodic student taste tests to increase participation in the district’s free school lunch program. Additionally, the district will hire a farm-to-school coordinator and additional cafeteria staff, and purchase equipment to preserve farm fresh New York State ingredients.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Seneca County, $99,944: The Seneca County Cornell Cooperative Extension farm-to-school program will expand the use, volume, and variety of locally grown items in the food service programs of 13 local schools.
- Webster Central School District $100,000: The Webster FRESH farm-to-school program will serve over 8,000 students with food sourced from six or more local farmers each year. Hands-on nutrition learning will also take place, including an expanded greenhouse education program, farmer presentations, taste tests, and more.
- East End Farm Institute, $100,000: The East End Farm Institute’s farm-to-school project will enhance students’ connection to a vibrant regional agricultural community and history by linking school food service, nutrition, agriculture, school gardens, and life skills. The goal of these efforts is to increase regional school procurement of New York State farm products.
- Poughkeepsie Farm Project, $100,000: This project will increase local food procurement for school meals and associated programs; provide educational support and informational materials; and increase professional development for educators and school nutrition staff.
- White Plains City School District, $62,526: This project will institute a ‘vegetable of the month’ promotion that will be embedded within different facets of the district’s farm-to-school program, helping to increase the volume and variety of New York State farm products offered in school meals.
- The Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship, $100,000: This project will provide education to farm and food businesses interested in entering wholesale markets; strengthen relationships with regional farm-to-school coordinators; conduct research and development around maximizing flavor and nutrient density of New York grown foods; and more.
- St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, $99,099: This project will develop a web-based ordering platform and communications process, and will also conduct research to determine the best products for production within school districts in the region.
- The Rural Health Network of South Central New York, $100,000: This project will increase the capacity of farm to school programs in 15 school districts in Broome and Tioga counties to increase the volume and variety of New York State farm products purchased by school districts and achieve 40% New York State procurement by 2024.
- Windsor Central School District, $89,870: This project will build on the Windsor Central School District’s extensive farm-to-school initiatives by increasing the amount of New York beef used in the district’s meals and providing students with opportunities to explore livestock farming.
- Kenmore Town of Tonawanda Unified School District, $36,070: Funding will help the Kenmore Town of Tonawanda Unified School District to increase the volume of New York State food products by 30% from September 2022 through August 2024. Each school month will feature New York State grown fruits and vegetables as well as New York State processed goods.
- West Seneca Central School District, $99,924: The Western New York Taste Test Project brings together a diverse cohort of school districts with a shared goal of increasing the volume and variety of local foods served and consumed in their cafeterias, and developing farm-to-school sustainability plans.
Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture said, “Farm-to-school is an important connector that brings together two real needs–getting healthy, locally-sourced school meals to our kids and supporting our hardworking and struggling farmers. As a major proponent of expanding New York’s Farm-to-School program, I know that this funding will go a long way to connect the dots between school cafeterias and agricultural communities across our state.”
Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture said, “New York’s Farm-to-School Program helps incorporate fresh, locally grown products into school menus. It also helps students gain a greater appreciation of where their food comes from, including the farmers who produced it. These grants are going to outstanding organizations who are committed to healthy student outcomes, and a vibrant local farm economy.”
About the New York State Farm-to-School Program
The New York State Farm-to-School Competitive Grants Program launched in 2015 to increase the purchase of local food by school districts and individual schools. The Farm-to-School Competitive Grants Program has grown from $325,000 in 2015 to $1,500,000 in Fiscal Year 2022. A total of 57 school districts or not-for-profit organizations working with schools and farms have received over $6.3 million dollars since 2015 to support farm-to-school efforts across New York State.
–NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets