Farm to School Program Helps School Districts Procure and Serve Fresh, Healthy New York State Products
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new funding opportunity for school districts across New York State aimed at connecting them to local growers and producers to increase the use of locally grown specialty crops. Through the Farm to School program, $350,000 in grants is now available for projects that will help Pre-K through Grade 12 schools procure and serve healthy, locally grown foods on school menus.
"The Farm to School program is a win-win that supports New York farmers as well as ensures the use of fresh, healthy foods in school meals across the state," said Governor Cuomo. "By providing funding for key projects like training and equipment, we can help strengthen our agriculture industry and build a healthier New York."
The Farm to School program is aimed at developing and strengthening connections between farms and schools to help grow the agricultural economy and increase the amount and variety of specialty crops procured by schools for healthier meal options. New York State produces a wide range of specialty crops, such as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, herbs and spices, which rank highly in the nation in terms of both production and economic value.
Applicants for the program can includePre-K through 12 school food authorities, charter schools, not-for-profit schools, and other entities participating in the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs and/or operating Summer Food Service 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 specialty crops.
- Purchase of equipment needed to increase capacity of school kitchen and food service staff to prepare and serve locally produced specialty crops.
- Capital improvements to support the transport and/or storage of locally produced specialty crops.
The Farm to School program was first announced as a result of Governor Cuomo’s Capital for a Day in Rochester, which he created to bring state government directly to the people it serves. The day-long event partnered state officials with residents, local leaders and stakeholders to examine first-hand the needs of a community and how New York State government can build upon its strengths and make a positive impact on its residents.
The commissioners from the State Departments of Agriculture and Markets, Health and the Office of General Services joined leaders from the New York Apple Association, Farm Fresh First, Empire Potato Growers and New York State Vegetable Growers Association, Brockport School District and the New York City School Support Services, to discuss increasing the procurement of New York State food products in New York’s more than 700 schools. The discussion centered on the growers’ delivery system and the school districts’ needs and purchasing process, and how to make it easier to bring the two together.
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "We have been working hard to find ways to strengthen the connection between our farmers and our New York schools statewide, and the Farm to School program gives us a tremendous start. We not only want to make sure that our school children have access to fresh, healthy foods, but also that they know where their meals come from. This new program will help overcome some of the challenges schools may face in sourcing product locally and make it easier for them to increase the use of New York's locally grown foods straight from the farm."
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Thanks to this program, New York’s school children will reap the nutritional benefits that comes with eating our state’s fresh produce. Locally grown crops are always the best option in terms of getting the maximum nutrients. Our state is fortunate to have such a diversity of fruits and vegetables, which is essential to a healthy diet."
New York State Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn M. Destito said, "These grants will not only increase the amount of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables being served in our schools, they will help achieve Governor Cuomo's goal of providing more opportunities for small and midsize companies in the agricultural industry to do business with New York. We are looking forward to growing this program throughout the state over the 2015-2016 school year."
Jim Liebow, New York State Lead for National Farm to School Network and Food Service Director at Brockport Central School District said, "Farm to School is on the rise all across New York State. Food Service Directors are seeing the positive benefits of developing their locally sourced Farm to School programs to nourish their students and help them grow and learn. The support from Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Ball will help bring the needed equipment, training and financial incentives to those districts to start, maintain and grow their Farm to School programs. Agriculture in all forms are an integral part of New York’s economy and school districts can certainly help in this mission."
Raymond Denniston, Special Project Coordinator for Food Services at Broome-Tioga BOCES said, "The Farm to School Grant is a great opportunity for interested schools and community to define the possibilities and address the challenges of creating a successful Farm to School Program."
For more information on the Farm to School Grant program, click here.
All applicants must register and apply through the Grants Gateway portal here and use the Program Identifier "FTSCG."
The deadline to apply is 4:30 p.m. on October 19. Awards will be made in November 2015.