Announced during Farm-to-School Month, program provides $50 million over 5 years to help improve kitchens and cook meals for students using New York farm products
As part of Farm-to-School Month, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $10 million is available through round 1 of New York’s Regional School Food Infrastructure Grant. The program will support projects in schools that improve meal preparation and distribution for kindergarten through grade 12 students.
First announced in the governor’s 2023 State of the State, the program will provide $50 million over five years to eligible applicants to facilitate the on-site processing and preparation of fresh, nutritious meals; increase the use of more healthy, local New York food products; and provide a boost to New York farmers.
“Through our farm-to-school program and our 30% New York state initiative for schools, we have made huge strides in bringing our farmers and our schools together, making lasting connections to purchase more local foods for school meals than ever before,” Hochul said. “This Regional School Food Infrastructure Grant program will build on the success of these programs and provide the much-needed support to help schools cook delicious meals for our young people. Providing healthy, balanced meals equals better learning for students statewide and supports our agricultural community at the same time.”
Hochul’s team said, “Administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Regional School Food Infrastructure Grant program will provide the resources schools need to aggregate, store, process and prepare farm products, and make it possible to cook fresh, nutritious, scratch-made meals for school children. It will also encourage workforce development by providing training to schools, communities and students for culinary arts, food processing, safe food handling and storage, logistics, delivery and more, based on community need.
“Project proposals should be regionally focused on improving meal preparation for K-12 school children, reducing food insecurity, increasing market opportunities for New York state producers, and strengthening the resilience of our state’s food system. The program requires that funded facilities serve multiple school districts and support their local community, including by providing workforce development opportunities.
“In this round of funding, two regions will be awarded $5 million each. Two additional regions will be awarded $5 million each in subsequent rounds, until all regions are awarded.”
Grant funds are available for the costs of capital projects to support the preparation and distribution of fresh meals for regional school infrastructure, such as aggregation, storage hubs, and/or commissary-type kitchens. Eligible applicants include not-for-profit organizations, local municipalities, school districts, and boards of cooperative education services (BOCES).
Proposals are due by 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. For more information on the program, project eligibility, and how to apply, visit here. Additionally, an optional webinar will be held at noon Nov. 29. To register, click here. The workshop will be recorded and posted on the department’s website.