Federal Funding Builds on New York State’s Farm to School Program
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State has been awarded nearly $100,000 through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Grant Program to better connect local farmers and school districts, and increase local foods in schools. The funds will support local procurement, food safety and capacity building training in Binghamton, Cortland and Marathon School Districts.
“Ensuring that our youngest New Yorkers have access to fresh, nutritious food is essential to the future of this state,” Governor Cuomo said. “This funding will further our efforts to encourage healthy eating habits at a young age, strengthen this state’s agricultural industry, and build a stronger and healthier New York.”
“Farm to school programs work—for schools, for producers, and for communities,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By serving nutritious and locally grown foods, engaging students in hands-on lessons, and involving parents and community members, these programs provide children with a holistic experience that sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating. With early results from our Farm to School Census indicating schools across the nation invested nearly $600 million in local products, farm to school also provides a significant and reliable market for local farmers and ranchers.”
The USDA grant funding provided by the Department of Agriculture and Markets to Broome-Tioga BOCES will impact 9,957 students across the three school districts. Broome-Tioga BOCES will work in partnership with Broome-Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Food and Health Network of South Central NY FAHN to facilitate training for local growers interested in connecting with schools. The organizations will also provide guidance for producers looking to shift from other markets to school and institutional sales.
The 2016 Farm to School Grant Program aligns with New York State’s priorities to strengthen ties between local farmers and school districts through the State’s Farm to School program, which launched in 2015. Six school districts were awarded a total of nearly $325,000 in October. In addition, Governor Cuomo has proposed up to $500,000 to be invested in the state’s Farm to School program this year.
The program also builds on funding previously awarded to New York State under the USDA’s early pilot program. In December 2014, the Office of General Services joined the pilot program that enabled local school districts to use USDA funding to purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables from approved vendors. As of the 2015-2016 school year, the program has grown to 97 school districts. There are currently 17 approved vendors on the USDA Approved Vendor List for the pilot program, with an additional 14 vendors that have applications into the USDA. Since the inception of the program, school districts have utilized nearly $364,000 in USDA funds for the purchase of local fruits and vegetables.
Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Farm to School Program is gaining tremendous momentum with schools across the state becoming increasingly interested in sourcing from local farmers and educating their students on the benefits of eating healthy, fresh, homegrown foods. Thanks to the USDA funding, the Department is now able to reach an additional three school districts. We look forward to the continuation of New York’s program in this new year, and connecting even more farmers to our state’s 700 school districts.”
Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, “Supporting New York farmers and introducing more fresh foods to students is a priority for Governor Cuomo. We are very pleased with the success of the pilot program and hope that it will be made permanent so that schools can continue to benefit.”
Congressman Richard Hanna said, “I am pleased to see these federal dollars being put toward good use to support our local farmers in the Southern Tier and ensure our school children are receiving quality local foods. We know the benefits of eating locally grown food. Not only is it more fresh and nutritious, but buying directly from family farms boosts our local economies and benefits all of us.”
Raymond Denniston, Special Project Coordinator for Food Services for Broome-Tioga BOCES, said, “This is a great opportunity to continue and expand our New York farm to school efforts, both in building relationships with new farms and developing the needed infrastructure to create a sustainable program for the Southern Tier and Central New York areas. Outcomes goals will range from a focus food safety—both at the farm and school—to transportation, value-added development, and student taste test and recipe development.”
Food and Health Network of South Central NY Coordinator Erin Summerlee said, “Farm to school programs provide a powerful opportunity to link the region’s rich agricultural resources with community efforts to address child hunger. We look forward to collaborating with many partners to ensure that all students have access to healthy, local, affordable food during the school day.”
Marathon and Cortland County School Districts Cafeteria Manager Francis Zaryski said, “The Food Service Departments in both Marathon and Cortland are extremely excited to partner with local farmers on the grant to bring locally grown products to the students.”
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is one of 74 projects spanning 39 states receiving support this year through the USDA’s Farm to School Program. Other award recipients in New York State include:
- · Brentwood Union Free School District (Suffolk County)
· Foodlink, Inc., (Monroe County)
· Niagara Falls City School District (Niagara County)
· Poughkeepsie Farm Project (Dutchess County)
· Wayne-Finger Lakes Board of Cooperative Educational Services (Wayne County)
Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring and Central NY Rising
Today's announcement complements “Southern Tier Soaring” and “Central NY Rising,” the regions’ comprehensive blueprints to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $3 billion in the Southern Tier and Central New York regions since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plans – 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, Corning, Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination in which to grow and invest.
Now, the regions are accelerating their plans 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. As submitted, the Southern Tier’s plan projects up to 10,200 new jobs and Central New York’s plan projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information on Southern Tier Soaring is available here. More information on Central NY Rising is available here.
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