December 19, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Record $1.5 Million in Awards to Support Farm-to-School Programs Across the State

Governor Cuomo Announces Record $1.5 Million in Awards to Support Farm-to-School Programs Across the State

Funding Will Support 18 Projects, Benefiting Over 420,000 Students

Program Part of Governor's Comprehensive "No Student Goes Hungry Program"

Guidelines Released to Support Expanded Purchasing of Local Agricultural Products for School Lunches

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $1.5 million in awards to support Farm-to-School programs across New York. The funding has been awarded to 18 projects and educational organizations that serve students in Kindergarten through Grade 12, and will benefit over 420,000 students. Funding for the Farm-to-School program was doubled in the State's 2018-19 Budget and is a key component of the Governor's No Student Goes Hungry initiative.

"New York is home to world-class agricultural products, and the Farm-to-School program connects these fresh, locally sourced ingredients to our students," Governor Cuomo said. "This record funding delivers on our promise to provide fresh, healthy meals to all New York students and spur economic growth for our farmers and growers in every corner of the State."

"The nutrition children receive at school every day is an important part of their growth and focus in the classroom," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "With this innovative program, we are ensuring that hundreds of thousands of children across New York have access to locally grown fruits and vegetables. New York is home to world-class farm products, and these projects as part of the Farm-to-School program deliver results for kids in school and farmers in every region of our state."

The award funding will be used to hire Farm-to-School coordinators; train food service staff; provide nutrition education in classrooms and cafeterias; purchase equipment to support food preparation; and support the purchase of more local farm products, such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, and herbs, used in school lunches.

The Farm-to-School program increases the volume and variety of locally grown and produced food in schools, improves student health and educates young people about agriculture, in addition to providing new markets for New York's farmers. The program also supports the expansion of the NY Thursdays Program, a school meal initiative that uses local, farm-fresh foods on Thursdays throughout the school year.

This is the fourth round of funding awarded to support farm-to-school programs in schools and educational organizations. Since the Governor launched New York's Farm-to-School program in 2015, more than $3.5 million has been invested to support 43 farm-to-school projects benefiting 255 school districts across the state.

The list of organizations to receive Farm-to-School grant funding is below.

Western New York

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County: $92,479
  • Wellsville Central School District: $39,211
  • Franklinville Central School District: $67,055
  • Forestville Central School District: $99,235
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County: $80,457

Finger Lakes

  • Genesee Valley Central School District: $50,621
  • Foodlink Inc.: $66,936

Southern Tier

  • The Rural Health Network SCNY, Inc: $99,506
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County: $92,829

Central New York

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wayne County: $100,000
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County: $99,989

North Country

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County: $99,939

Mohawk Valley

  • Oneida Herkimer Madison BOCES: $100,000

Hudson Valley

  • Poughkeepsie Farm Project, NY Food for NY Kids: $100,000

Capital Region

  • Capital Roots Inc: $97,220
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County: $36,226
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County: $93,582

Long Island

  • Glen Cove City School District: $84,712

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 a key component of 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, the No Student Goes Hungry program has also resulted in expanded access to free breakfast, banned lunch shaming, and helped ensure students in kindergarten through college receive access to farm-fresh foods in a quality learning environment.

The Governor's new No Student Goes Hungry initiative also included a groundbreaking commitment that begins next year: school districts that purchase at least 30 percent of their ingredients from New York farms and producers will receive up to a 25-cent state reimbursement for lunches. Several of the Farm-to-School projects awarded will assist schools in reaching this goal.

Earlier this month, the State Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture and Markets issued guidelines for the No Student Goes Hungry reimbursement to help school food authorities access the increased funding and expand their purchasing of local agricultural products. The guidelines are available here.

Lunch providers spending at least 30 percent of their total school lunch costs on New York State food products in the preceding school year can apply on July 1 for the state reimbursement of up to 25 cents per lunch claimed in the current school year. For example, on July 1, 2019, reimbursement applications will be accepted based on data from the 2018-2019 school year. Disbursements to lunch providers who are approved will be awarded for each reimbursable meal claimed in the 2019-2020 school year.

"New York State Food Products" are defined as items that are grown, harvested, or produced in New York State, and processed using more than 51 percent agricultural raw materials that are grown, harvested, or produced in New York State, by weight or volume. A 30 percent Calculation Tool found here can be used to project the amount of eligible purchases needed to participate in this initiative. The current list of New York State producers and processors is available here.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "The Governor's record-breaking awards to our Farm-To-School programs will help ensure that all students, Upstate and Downstate, have access to fresh, locally-grown nutritious meals, while also providing a boost to local farmers and food producers. This is a win-win for urban, rural and suburban New Yorkers."

Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn M. Destito said, "The expansion of Governor Cuomo's Farm-to-School initiatives is welcome news for students in New York who will now have greater opportunities to learn about healthy eating habits as they consume more nutritious and delicious locally produced food. We are also excited about the $3 million in USDA funds that more than 250 school districts in the State have committed in 2018-19 toward the USDA pilot project for unprocessed fruits and vegetables. The pilot, which OGS administers on behalf of the State, benefits New York's students as well as its agricultural community."

State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, "Everyone benefits under New York’s Farm-to-School Program, which recognizes the direct link between proper nutrition and academic success. When we can support our schools, improve student health and strengthen local agriculture, it’s truly a win for all of New York. I’m so pleased to see this excellent program’s reach now extending to our Central New York schools as well."

Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said, “The Farm-to-School program feeds students physically and intellectually and it makes perfect sense that this partnership should be supported and expanded for our children. It brings healthy, New York-grown food into school cafeterias, and opportunities to learn about healthy food and the farms it comes from into our classrooms.”

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, "Placing more local, farm-fresh foods in school lunchrooms is a win-win for all. Through this program, we are helping our children eat healthier, learn about agriculture and at the same time, are creating new markets for our hardworking farmers. I look forward to seeing how this investment helps improve the health of students, and our farmers' bottom lines."

Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, "The Farm-to-School Program has been successful in bringing wholesome, fresh, New York grown foods to school lunch programs. The NY Thursdays Initiative and the Farm-to-School Programs encourage students to appreciate and support healthy diets from foods produced locally, while boosting the local farm economy. This increased commitment will build upon the successes, and continue and advance the best practices of lessons and goals for teaching about agriculture, food, and the economy."

In addition to financial assistance, online educational resources are available for schools and organizations currently participating in a Farm-to-School initiative and those looking to implement programs. The Getting Local Food Into New York State Schools is a toolkit that guides schools through the local procurement process. In addition, the Harvest of the Month toolkit offers strategies for starting and promoting the Harvest of the Month campaign, which highlights a different locally grown food in the school cafeteria each month through educational materials and activities such as posters, cooking demonstrations, and taste tests. These resources can be found on the State's Farm-to-School website here.


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