Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that $1 million is available for eligible school districts to support the growth of Farm-to-School Programs across New York State. The program helps Kindergarten through Grade 12 schools connect with local farmers, increase the use of locally grown food on school menus, improve student health, and educate young people about agriculture. Since the Governor launched New York's Farm-to-School Program in 2015, $850,000 has been invested so far to support 13 Farm-to-School projects that benefit 108 school districts across the state.
"New York will continue to provide funding to help schools build relationships with local farmers, instill good eating habits in our children, and support the state's agricultural industry," Governor Cuomo said. "This program has already had a significant impact on our youngest New Yorkers, and by holding the first-ever Farm-to-School Summit in the Southern Tier, we are increasing the number of schools serving locally-sourced meals and supporting a healthier, stronger New York for all."
The $1 million program was announced at today's Farm-to-School Summit held in Binghamton. The Summit delivers on the Governor's promise made in his 2017 State of the State address to expand programs to provide school children with healthier meal options and grow the agricultural economy. More than 100 school educators, procurement and nutrition program managers, and state and federal agency representatives from the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, NYS Department of Education, NYS Office of General Services, and United States Department of Agriculture, attended the Summit.
Applicants eligible for Round 3 of the Farm-to-School Program include Kindergarten through Grade 12 school food authorities, public schools, charter schools, not-for-profit schools, and other entities participating in the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, or the Summer Food Service Program. The state is seeking proposals that will increase the capacity of schools to procure and serve locally produced food items in school meal programs.
Projects eligible for grant funding across New York's school districts may include:
- Employing of a local or regional farm to school coordinator;
- Training programs for food service staff to increase knowledge of local procurement and preparation of locally produced food;
- Purchase of equipment needed to increase capacity of school kitchen and food service staff to prepare and serve locally produced food; and
- Capital improvements to support the transport and/or storage of locally produced food.
The Farm-to-School Program is a major component of the state's ongoing efforts to increase the amount of fresh, local foods served in schools and to connect New York's farmers to new markets. Since 2015, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has also been a partner in the NY Thursdays program that brings locally grown or produced foods directly to students in New York City schools on Thursdays. In September 2017, the Governor announced that five school districts in Broome and Tioga Counties were the first to launch a NY Thursdays program in Upstate New York.
The New York State Office of General Services has also been a partner in the expansion of the Farms-to-School programs through the USDA Unprocessed Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Project. The number of schools participating in the 2017-18 school year has grown to 272 schools serving over 56.1 million lunches annually.
All applicants to the Farm-to-School Program must register and apply through Grants Gateway here. Proposals must be received by November 3, 2017 by 4 p.m. For more information, contact: Meg McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "The Farm-to-School Program makes sure that our school children have access to fresh, healthy foods and that our students know and understand where their meals come from. In just a few years, we have helped districts across the State tap into the local food movement and serve more lunches with products either grown in their school garden or purchased from their community farmer. This first-ever summit is building new relationships and keeping the momentum going so we can encourage even more participation in the program."
State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia said, "There's a direct link between good nutrition and academic success. Everyone benefits under New York's Farm-to-School Program - farmers grow and provide healthy food for our schoolchildren; students enjoy delicious, locally grown produce while learning valuable lessons about agriculture, health and wellness, and parents can be assured that their children's schools are providing healthy menu options."
New York State Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn M. Destito said, "As we enter the fall harvest season, which is ripe with New York State apples, squash, cabbage, pumpkins and more, it is great news that there is additional funding for Farm-to-School programs. By adding equipment and staff, schools will be able to serve more fresh foods and will build on the success we have had with the USDA Pilot program which has grown to serve nearly 300 schools statewide."
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, "The expansion of New York's Farm-to-School program is a win-win for everyone. Our children get access to farm-fresh, healthy foods and our hardworking farmers have a growing market to provide those foods. I would like to thank Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Ball for their continued efforts that support our children and New York's agricultural industry."
Assemblyman and Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, "Continued support for the Farm to School Program is needed to strengthen and develop key networks between farms and school kitchens so that a greater variety of healthy, fresh, locally grown foods are served, and so that more schools can participate. In bringing together the stakeholders, today's Summit has the potential to create an action plan that will prove successful in making healthy food choices available to our students, and also in creating and building on important connections between agriculture and our schools."
Chris B. Watkins, Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension said, "Cornell Cooperative Extension is proud to partner with the farm to school program. Our expertise is education, helping provide the research knowledge that is continuing to help grow the importance of agriculture in New York. A sustainable food chain that increases the availability of fresh local foods to students in schools results in greater exposure to local foods and health benefits, and supports New York farmers."
Karin Reeves, owner of Reeves Farms LLC, said, "We see farm to school programs as an opportunity to help students understand more about agriculture in their community. We look forward to seeing how the program evolves with the hope that it will put more local food in schools while supporting the local economy and providing economic opportunities for farms in our state."
Mike Harris, owner of Lone Maple Farms, said, "Our farm is excited about being involved with the Farm to School initiative. The Farm to School program has the potential to provide far reaching positive benefits to the community, local farms, and most importantly higher nutritional food to the students for improved health, growth, and learning."
Mark Bordeau, Senior Food Service Director, Broome Tioga BOCES, and Vice President, NY School Nutrition Association, said, "Broome-Tioga BOCES Food Service Program ("Rock on Café") has experienced the benefit of developing relationships with farmers and processors to provide local, fresh, healthy and child acceptable products to our students. We have amazing agricultural products and untapped opportunities right here in our own communities that only need to be discovered! We have been, and more importantly, the students have been, very impressed with our local products, and at the same time we have the opportunity to educate students to the importance of the local food system. Farm to School is a win for farms, students, and communities."
Erin Summerlee, Food and Health Network Director, Rural Health Network of South Central NY, said, "Farm-to-School programs offer a powerful opportunity to not only serve more local food in schools, but impact the health of students, economic vitality of farms and food businesses, and create new learning opportunities for students. We are seeing these benefits first hand in the Southern Tier and are thrilled to scale up efforts with the NY Thursdays program. Today's summit was a valuable chance to learn from and share innovation with partners across the State to ensure even more growth in the future!"
David Haight, New York State Director of the American Farmland Trust, said, "Bringing more food grown in New York into our schools is good for the economy, and the health of our kids. Even keeping 25% of these food dollars spent by schools within the state would create new jobs and support local farmers. We applaud Governor Cuomo and so many others that are making such an opportunity become a reality."
For more information on the Farm-to-School Grant Program, click here.
Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring
Today's announcement complements "Southern Tier Soaring the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $4.6 billion in the region since 2012 to lay for groundwork for the plan - attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning as a destination in which to grow and invest. Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.