October 10, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces $1.5 Million Available to School Districts Through State's Farm-To-School Program

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces $1.5 Million Available...

Program Launches during Farm-to-School Month, Provides Economic Benefits to New York Farmers and Brings More Local Food to Students across New York State 

Applications Open Now Through November 7, 2019 

Farm-to-School Program Key Component of the Governor's No Student Goes Hungry Initiative 


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that $1.5 million is available for eligible school districts to support the growth of Farm-to-School programs across New York State. This program helps Kindergarten through Grade 12 schools to increase the purchase of locally grown and produced food for school meals and provides increased economic benefits to New York's farmers. The Farm-to-School Program is a key component of the Governor's No Student Goes Hungry initiative, which will begin providing added reimbursements under the 30 percent New York State initiative this school year.

"We know that serving our children healthy, local meals means they are better, more productive students and that they are more likely to continue eating healthier foods as they get older," Governor Cuomo said. "Programs like Farm-to-School and our No Student Goes Hungry initiative are making a difference in not only providing nutritious food choices to our students but also helping to support our farmers. I look forward to seeing this momentum continue in even more districts across the state."

"As part of the fifth round of the Farm-to-School program, we are committed to providing local, healthy foods in schools across the state," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This funding will bring more locally-sourced products into our schools and provide economic benefits to New York farmers - a partnership that helps ensure their growth and success. This program is making sure our students have access to the best local food in New York, and advances the long-term success of our agriculture industry."

Lieutenant Governor Hochul announced the fifth round of the Farm-to-School program today at Waterfront Elementary School in Buffalo and participated in a NY Thursdays local lunch with students.  Students enjoyed New York beef hamburgers from Slate Foods of New York, which sources from farms across the Hudson Valley; corn on the cob and kale salad from Eden Valley Growers from Eden, NY; chips from Marquart Farms from Gainesville, NY; milk from Upstate Farms from Buffalo, NY; New York apples; and NY Juice Co. Concord grape juice, made with Concord grapes from farms across Western New York. Buffalo Public Schools has an enrollment of 38,351 students in more than 60 different schools in Erie County and has succeeded in reaching the 30 percent goal of sourcing local foods from New York State. 

Applicants eligible for Round 5 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. Not-for-profit entities working with school food authorities and eligible schools are also able to apply. The state is seeking proposals that will increase the capacity of schools to procure and serve New York State farm products in school meal programs.

Grant funding of up to $100,000 per project will be awarded for, but not limited to:

  • Employing a local or regional farm-to-school coordinator;
  • Training of 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.

Since the Governor launched New York's Farm-to-School Program in 2015, $4.825 million has been committed to support Farm-to-School projects across the State. Through the first four rounds of funding, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has awarded 43 projects, benefiting 255 school districts in every region across the state.

All applicants to the Farm-to-School Program must register and apply through Grants Gateway. Proposals must be received by November 7 by 4 p.m.  For more information, contact: Mark McMullen at [email protected]

For more information on the Farm-to-School grant program, click here.

Governor's No Student Goes Hungry Initiative

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. It is key to the Governor's No Student Goes Hungry initiative, first introduced in his 2018 State of the State Address. The initiative is a comprehensive program developed to provide students of all ages, backgrounds, and financial situations access to healthy, locally-sourced meals from kindergarten through college. In addition to expanding the Farm-to-School program and access to free breakfast, putting an end to lunch shaming, and ensuring students in kindergarten through college receive access to farm-fresh foods in a quality-learning environment, the No Student Goes Hungry initiative includes a groundbreaking reimbursement program.

To incentivize school districts to use more New York State farm products, the initiative increases the State share of 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 from New York farms. This school year, districts that reached that goal in 2018-19, can apply for reimbursement under the new initiative.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "I am so impressed by the interest of our school districts and our agricultural partners in moving the Farm-to-School effort forward.  As more schools look to connect to their community farmers and bring in local products, we are seeing great achievements—from NY Thursdays to the Grape-to-School pilot program. This fifth round of Farm-to-School funding and the Governor's No Student Goes Hungry initiative together will increase the opportunities for our children to get the nutritious, good food they need and for our farmers to have new avenues to sell their homegrown products."

Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said, "I'm proud of the work being done across New York State to promote student wellness and improve child nutrition by connecting schools and local farms. Farm-to-School allows for more nutritious meals for our children and teaches students about healthy eating and making smarter meal choices."

Interim State Education Commissioner Beth Berlin said, "Increasing schools' access to local foods benefits students through better nutrition while also strengthening community ties. Hundreds of thousands of New York children already have access to food from local farms in school and we look forward to increasing the number of students who find New York produce, milk and meat more on their plates."

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said, "Good nutrition and the availability of healthy meals are critical to children's education and long-term wellness. New York State is fortunate to have a thriving agricultural sector to support the Farm-to-School Program and provide our children with the nutrition they need to succeed."

Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, "From the farmers, distributors, and sellers of locally grown produce to the students who are learning the advantages of eating fresh and nutritious foods, Governor Cuomo's strong commitment to Farm-to-School initiatives benefits all involved. As the State's administrator of the USDA pilot program for the procurement of unprocessed fruits and vegetables, my team at OGS is excited to see that even more is being done by the Governor to ensure No Student Goes Hungry."

Bridget O'Brien-Wood, Buffalo Public Schools Food Service Director, said, "The additional New York state funding we have received here in Buffalo is clearly making a difference for our students who have so many local healthy food options each day at school. We are so very grateful for the support of the many partners who helped Buffalo grow its Farm-to-School program and obtain the 30% New York initiative.  Everyone benefits from these programs."

Cheryl Thayer, Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvest NY Agricultural Economic Development Specialist, said, "Advancing New York agriculture, providing nutrition and agricultural education, and developing youth are shared tenets of both farm-to-school and Cornell Cooperative Extension. As such, Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvest NY and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County are thrilled to serve as partners in the Buffalo farm-to-school program. This exemplary model redirects millions of the district's food dollars into the pockets of local farmers and small food producers, increases access to healthy food for the student body, and provides food systems education and experiential learning opportunities to tens of thousands of students. This level of success would not be possible without Governor Cuomo's No Student Goes Hungry initiative. We are truly grateful for his commitment to Farm- to-School."  

Dave Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President, said, "New York Farm Bureau values the Farm to School Program and supports New York State's efforts to increase school participation through grants and the higher lunch reimbursement rate for qualifying districts. It provides additional market opportunities for our farmers while also guaranteeing students have fresh, local food on their lunch plates. New York Farm Bureau thanks the Buffalo School District for its commitment to New York grown products and producers, and we look forward to more success stories across New York State."

Samantha Levy, American Farmland Trust New York Policy Manager, said, "Helping our schools buy more food grown in New York improves the health of our children while strengthening the economic security of our farms—a true win-win. These are critical outcomes given the financial challenges many farmers are facing, and the value of teaching healthy habits early on. We applaud Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature for helping schools significantly expand their purchasing of locally grown foods—great change has happened in a short period of time, and with continued focus and investment on Farm to School initiatives, the future looks bright for more!"

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Jen Metzger said, "This funding will help New York's Farm-to-School movement continue to evolve and bring healthier school meals to children while supporting local farms at the same time. Financial resources are often a barrier to schools in preparing fresh meals on site, and these grants will enable them to integrate locally-grown foods in the lunch program, and in turn, improve health and nutrition while teaching kids about where their food comes from and the merits of putting real food on the table at every meal, whether at school or in their homes."

Senator Tim Kennedy said, "Every student deserves the right to a quality education, but not every child has the tools to succeed at their fingertips. Access to proper nutrition and healthy, locally sourced food options is a critical component of the learning process, and through the Farm-to-School program and our No Student Goes Hungry Initiative, New York is working alongside fantastic school districts like Buffalo Public Schools to ensure our students are properly fueled for success."

Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Donna Lupardo said, "New York's Farm-to-School program has helped provide fresh food to students across the state while helping local farmers. I've seen firsthand the popularity of local foods among students when I have visited their schools. This funding helps continue the fantastic work we've done through this program and I look forward to more schools developing relationships with farmers in their communities."

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "This $1.5 million from the Governor for the State's Farm-to-School Program is a win-win for school children and farmers.  The program will help farmers right here in Western New York to continue to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for students who might not otherwise have a healthy meal with daily nutritional values. It also ensures that our farmers will reap the economic benefits of providing fresh food to our schools."

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, "The farm to school program is an amazing opportunity for farmers and students across New York State. This program ensures our students have access to healthy food grown locally and will help our students learn to make healthy nutritional choices.  Programs like this make a real difference in students' lives and I'm thankful for our states commitment to this effort."

Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "Healthy, balanced school meals are key in supporting the health of our young people and increasing their educational outcomes. These delicious, nutritious local options ensure that our students are fueled to focus in class while also supporting New York's crucial farming industry. I thank Governor Cuomo, Lieutenant Governor Hochul, and Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Ball for their ongoing commitment to healthy living and ensuring that no student goes hungry."

Connecting New York Schools and Farms

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has also been a partner in other Farm-to-School efforts, including the NY Thursdays program that brings locally grown or produced foods directly to students in schools on Thursdays.   Launched in New York City schools in 2015, the program has since been replicated in additional schools upstate.  In September 2017, the Governor announced that five school districts in Broome and Tioga Counties were the first to start a NY Thursdays program in Upstate New York.  In May 2018, Oneida-Herkimer-Madison (OHM) BOCES and Oneida County Cornell Cooperative Extension hosted a NY Thursdays "New York Food Day," a celebration of the Mohawk Valley Farm-to-School initiative across 18 school districts in the region.  In addition, school districts including Hamburg Central School District, Buffalo Public Schools, Poughkeepsie City School District and Southampton School District have implemented NY Thursdays programs of their own.

In addition, other school districts are implementing NYS Harvest of the Month and NY Farmer Fridays to feature New York State products in their school lunch programs. The New York State Office of General Services has also been a partner in the expansion of the Farm-to-School program through the USDA Unprocessed Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Project.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office