ALBANY — New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced that applications are open for reimbursement for the 30% New York State Initiative for the 2021-2022 school year. This initiative increases the reimbursement schools receive for lunches from 5.9 cents per meal to 25 cents per meal for any district that purchases at least 30 percent ingredients for their school lunch program from New York farms. As part of her State of the State commitment to better connect farms and schools across New York, Governor Hochul directed the Department of Agriculture and Markets to take the lead on administration of the 30% NYS Initiative as of July 1 in order to enhance participation in the program statewide.
Commissioner Ball said, “The 30% NYS Initiative is a key part of New York State’s goal to get more fresh, local, New York foods on tables across the state. Here at the Department, we are excited to be taking the lead on the program this year and look forward to working closely with school food authorities to get more New York products to New York kids. By increasing reimbursement for school food authorities that use at least 30% New York products in their lunches, we are supporting our farmers, our schools, and our students – a win-win-win for all. I encourage eligible schools to apply for the 2021-2022 program and to consider taking part in this great initiative moving forward.”
The law originally passed in 2018 was updated in this year’s state budget to provide school food authorities (SFAs) with increased State reimbursement for the purchase of New York State food products for school lunch programs. SFAs that purchase food items and prepare their own school lunches or SFAs that contract with a Food Service Management Company to purchase food items and prepare school lunches are eligible to participate in the 30% NYS initiative.
SFAs must apply annually to receive the additional reimbursement for the following school year. Any NYS food product purchased and used in the reimbursable meals for the school lunch program may contribute toward the 30% NYS Initiative. Applications for reimbursement for the 2021-2022 school year are now open and are due August 15. Find out more about the program and how to apply at https://agriculture.ny.gov/30-percent-initiative.
The 30% NYS Initiative is intended to provide healthy New York sourced food products to children as part of their lunch meal in school. When schools use food products from local sources, they are supporting local farmers and providing healthy choices for children in school meal programs, while also supporting the local economy. SFAs that take part in the initiative are encouraged, to the best extent possible, to reach the required threshold with healthy, farm fresh items served with the reimbursable lunch meal and to limit the inclusion of a la carte snack foods.
Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture said, “We can raise a healthier generation of children and deliver powerful economic drivers for struggling New York farms by creating smarter and stronger farm-to-school connections. The 30% NYS Initiative is a great example of a program that is doing that work, making it easier and more cost-effective for schools to buy healthy, local food from New York farms, and I encourage eligible districts in every corner of our state to apply.”
Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee said, “The 30% NYS Initiative supports our farmers by getting more locally grown, fresh foods into our schools. The increased reimbursement rate is a welcome incentive for schools to provide healthier food alternatives to their students, while supporting New York’s farm economy. I will continue to advocate for this program as it addresses our goals to support student health, farm stability, and environmental stewardship.”
Jennifer Martin, Executive Director of the New York School Nutrition Association said, “We are really passionate about the 30% NYS Initiative and plan on doing everything we can to encourage more school districts to take advantage of this amazing opportunity. This program has such a positive impact on our children, our farmers, our local economy, and even the environment. Many other state school nutrition associations have reached out to us asking how they can replicate a similar program in their own states, which shows us that child nutrition programs need more farm to school programs available to them.”
In addition to the 30% NYS Initiative, the Department is committed to helping New Yorkers increase their access to fresh, local, healthy foods, and supporting new economic opportunities for farmers, through programs such as Nourish New York, the Farm-to-School Competitive Grants program, the Community Gardens program, the Council on Hunger and Food Policy, and the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Learn more at https://agriculture.ny.gov/healthy-communities.
–NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets