Program ‘provides boost’ to farmers, ‘brings healthy, local food to students’
√ Applications open through Jan. 24, 2023; portion of funding reserved for new applicants
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced $850,000 is available for eligible school districts to expand farm-to-school programs across New York.
A press release said, “The program helps kindergarten through grade 12 schools increase the use of locally grown food on school menus, while providing an economic benefit to New York’s farmers. A portion of the funding – $200,000 – will be dedicated to applicants that have not received an award in previous rounds of the program.”
Ball said, "The farm-to-school program is a great way to ensure New York’s students have access to fresh, healthy foods, and they understand where their meals come from. I’m proud that this program continues to help schools tap into the local food movement and serve more healthy lunches with products either grown in their school garden or purchased from their community farmers. This is a win-win for our agricultural industry and for our state’s future leaders.”
Applicants eligible for round 7 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, and projects that partner with producers and food processors are encouraged.
Grant funding of up to $100,000 will be awarded for projects that support the establishment or expansion of farm-to-school programs in districts across the state, including:
√ Employing a local or regional farm-to-school coordinator;
√ Training food service staff to increase knowledge of local procurement and preparation of locally produced food;
√ Purchasing equipment needed to increase capacity of school kitchen and food service staff to prepare and serve locally produced food;
√ Completing capital improvements to support the transport and/or storage of locally produced food; and
√ Creating new food products for the menu.
The press release said, “Since the launch of the farm-to-school program in 2015, $6.8 million has been committed to support farm-to-school projects across the state. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has awarded a total of 116 projects, benefiting hundreds of school districts in every region in the state.
“The farm-to-school program is a major component of New York state’s focus on enhancing its food system, including combatting food insecurity, and increasing access to food in underserved communities. The state has launched several groundbreaking programs in recent years to improve access to healthy, locally grown foods, and to bring New York-grown foods and beverages to communities who need it most, as well as New York state schools. In addition to the farm-to-school program, the New York State 30% Initiative, and child nutrition programs administered by the State Education Department (SED) are focused on buying more local products from New York farmers, and increasing healthy and nutritious local foods for New York school lunches.
“Additionally, SED was awarded nearly $12 million from the USDA Local Food for Schools (LFS) cooperative agreement program to help schools purchase local and regional foods and beverages for the school day through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. These healthy and unique products will continue the state's goal of improving child nutrition while building new relationships between schools and local farmers.”
New York state funds a team of regional farm-to-school coordinators through Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Harvest New York Program to provide boots-on-the-ground assistance to schools with developing local purchasing programs, connecting with local farmers, and working toward achieving the 30% initiative. Since in 2020, the state has invested over $1.2 million in the regional coordinator program. Find and connect with a local coordinator here.
The press release said, “New York state has leveraged over $170,000 of federal funding for farm to-school work through federal farm-to-school grants received in 2021 and 2022. These grants will help support management of the 30% initiative and provide two training opportunities for producers on accessing regional farm-to-school markets.”