State's Farm-to-School Program Supports New York Farmers, Enhances Agricultural and Nutritional Education, and Improves Student Health and Well-Being in Schools Across the State
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that ten programs have been awarded more than $850,000 through Round 7 of New York State's Farm-to-School program. Funding provided through the Farm-to-School program helps schools connect with local farmers, increase the use of locally grown food on school menus, and improve student health, while providing increased economic benefits to New York's farmers. Four organizations were awarded funds through the Farm-to-School program for the first time. The Farm-to-School program reflects Governor Hochul's continued commitment to better connect farms and schools across New York and increase local purchasing to strengthen the State's food system.
"Our Farm-to-School program is a key component of my administration's efforts to get more fresh, local New York products on tables across the state," Governor Hochul said. "By connecting schools and farmers, we are providing critical economic opportunities for farmers and producers while also giving students and underserved populations access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy, and nutritious food."
New York's Farm-to-School program promotes the purchase and use of New York State grown and produced food in meals served in cafeterias of Kindergarten through Grade 12 schools. Farm-to-school projects help improve student health and well-being, enhance agricultural and nutritional education, strengthen local economies, and build healthy communities. Additionally, these programs help schools and farms address the challenges of procuring, storing, and serving local food, such as the lack of equipment to store and prepare fresh, minimally processed foods, access to farms that sell directly to schools, and finding distributors that carry New York products.
Projects awarded across the state address these challenges and include:
- Comfort Food of Washington County, Inc. (new awardee) - $100,000: This program will increase the volume and variety of New York-grown food products purchased by school food authorities across Washington, Warren, and Saratoga counties. The program will also coordinate hands-on agricultural and nutrition education opportunities for students in these counties.
- Clyde-Savannah Central School District (new awardee) - $100,000: This project will further develop existing relationships with farmers and New York farm product distributors and build new relationships. The project will also focus on a new sustainable farming/gardening practices curriculum, including a greenhouse that will provide local product focused, hands-on nutrition education for grades 1-12 to instruct students on healthy eating and food production, preparation, and preservation.
- Elba School District (new awardee) - $100,000: This project will work towards increasing the volume and variety of New York State farm products procured by the Elba School District for inclusion in meals through new relationships with local farm vendors as well as through farm products grown by students on school grounds.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County - $99,954: This program will work with school districts across Oneida County to help navigate the local food procurement process required in New York State. The program will also help farmers make connections in the food service network.
New York City
- NYC Department of Education - $100,000: The New York City Department of Education Office of Nutrition Services (DOE OFNS) will increase the volume and variety of New York farm products in school meals by developing a DOE-specific producer training. The training will support growers with the tools and knowledge needed to sell specifically to the NYC DOE OFNS and assist them in obtaining additional relevant certifications.
- Saranac Lake Central School District - $36,106.16: This project will enhance the variety of New York State farm products to be included in Saranac Lake Central School programs by increasing the number of local farm partners. It will also increase the diversity of whole grains and legumes served to students by researching and connecting with farms growing these crops.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Franklin County (new awardee) - $100,000: This program will focus on a collaborative partnership between Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County and three school districts in Franklin County that will help increase the volume and variety of New York State farm products in school meal programs.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension Association- Essex County - $64,717: Through this program CCE Essex will assist 14 school districts in Clinton, Essex, and Franklin Counties with local food procurement on a regional scale. The program will also provide monthly Agriculture in the Classroom and Harvest of the Month curriculum in school districts.
- Broome-Delaware-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services - $100,000: The Broome Tioga BOCES (BT BOCES) and community partners will work collaboratively to increase culinary training for food service staff to build capacity for farm to school efforts; expand local purchasing; develop new relationships with New York producers; and provide comprehensive education for students. This project will serve 15 school districts in Broome and Tioga counties.
- Windsor Central School District, $100,000: This project will increase the amount of New York State farm products used in the Windsor Central School District school meal program and increase the infrastructure and capacity of the district's Land Lab to enhance agricultural education.
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "New York State's Farm-to-School program continues to make a major impact on our schools and their ability to purchase, prepare, and serve farm fresh, local foods to our school children. A number of schools and organizations awarded today are participating for the first time and it's heartening to see that we are continuing to expand the reach of the program across the State. I thank Governor Hochul for her continued commitment to our agricultural industry and look forward to seeing these projects progress and the benefits this program will bring our agricultural community."
Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair, Senate Committee on Agriculture said, "We can bring healthy, locally grown food directly to school lunch tables and provide powerful rural economic development opportunities to New York farmers by increasing farm-to-school partnerships across our state. As a major proponent of expanding New York's Farm-to-School program, I'm thrilled to see so many grant awards go toward helping schools create first-ever programs to support their students and school community."
Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Chair, Assembly Committee on Agriculture said, "New York's Farm-to-School program provides our schools with the flexibility to access fresh, locally grown and produced foods for their students. I am pleased to see this program expanding to include more organizations across the state, along with continued funding for existing programs. The relationships built through Farm-to-School are necessary to maintain and grow a vibrant, local farm economy across New York."
Amie Collins, Executive Director, Comfort Food Community said, "Comfort Food Community is thrilled to receive this award. We are ready and enthusiastic about expanding the ways we interact with our local agricultural community to provide more access to local products to our area schools."
Scott Gordon, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County said, "Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County is honored to be selected as a new awardee for New York State's Farm-to-School Program. The funds will allow the association to hire a Farm-to-School Coordinator to connect three partner schools and local farmers to build upon growing momentum for Farm-to-School in Northern New York. The program is a win-win for increasing economic opportunities for North Country farmers and increasing access to healthy, local foods for students."
Clyde-Savannah Central School District Superintendent Michael C. Hayden said, "The Farm-to-School Grant is a testament to our collective efforts in prioritizing the health and well-being of our students. It represents a significant step towards creating a more sustainable and interconnected community. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for recognizing our commitment and providing us with this incredible opportunity. Together, we will continue to empower our students, educate them about the importance of sustainable practices, and inspire a generation that values and cherishes the relationship between our school and our local farming community."
Clyde-Savannah Central School District Food Service Director Donna Riviello said, "I am absolutely thrilled to receive this grant from the NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets. This funding will help our district expand and grow our current partnerships with local farmers and producers right here in our own communities. It will assist with the awesome work already being done by our amazing food service staff in creating fresh, locally sourced, scratch-made meals. I think I'm most excited though that this funding will help us expand upon our current instruction with hands on learning experiences for our students in creating sustainable food systems that will teach our kids to grow, harvest and preserve fresh, nutritious food. I couldn't be more excited to "dig in" and get started."
Patrick Harper of Black Creek Farms said, "We at Black Creek Farms are excited to continue and expand the partnership we have created over the past year with Clyde-Savannah. Being an alumni of Clyde-Savannah and local 5th generation farmer, we understand the important place agriculture holds in our community. We look forward to educating students on the process of growing fresh produce and being able to provide a hands-on experience in the field."
The New York State Farm-to-School program is administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (AGM). The program launched in 2015 to increase the purchase of local food by school districts and individual schools. A total of 61 school districts or not-for-profit organizations working with schools and farms have received over $7.1 million since 2015 to support farm-to-school efforts across New York State.
In addition to the Farm-to-School program, AGM also administers the New York State 30 percent Initiative, which is focused on buying more local products from New York farmers and increasing healthy and nutritious local foods for New York school lunches. Find out more about the 30 percent Initiative and the Farm-to-School program. This announcement builds on the Governor's recent actions included in the FY 2024 State Budget, which raised the discretionary threshold for schools to purchase local food and food products from $20,000 to $150,000, a significant increase from that prior threshold.
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