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Hochul awards $10 million through Regional School Food Infrastructure Grant program


Fri, Apr 26th 2024 07:55 pm

North Country and Western New York projects awarded in round one

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $10 million has been awarded through round one of New York’s Regional School Food Infrastructure Grant program. Projects in the North Country and in Western New York were awarded $5 million each to improve meal preparation and distribution for kindergarten through grade 12 students.

A press release stated, “First announced in the governor’s 2023 State of the State, the program will provide $50 million over five years to eligible applicants in all 10 regions of New York state 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.”

“As governor, I want to make sure that all New Yorkers have fresh, locally grown, nutritious foods to eat,” Hochul said. “The Regional School Food Infrastructure program tackles this challenge head on by ensuring that our schools have the equipment they need to cook from scratch. This is just one great example of how we’re connecting the dots within our food systems, reducing food insecurity while increasing market opportunities for farmers, and strengthening the resiliency of our state’s food system.”

In each round of the program, 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 through five rounds.

The Buffalo City School District is being awarded $5,000,000 to assist in equipping a commissary that provides nutritional support to 97 schools. Grant funds will be used to establish a vegetable preparation and processing area, ingredient room, packing system, and additional infrastructure necessary to establish contracted delivery of products prepared and packaged using New York ingredients. This award will also support community engagement through a test kitchen and chef brigade passing on locally sourced cooking recipes.

Champlain Valley Educational Services (Clinton-Essex-Warren-Washington BOCES) (North Country) is being awarded $5,000,000 to establish a central food hub, two state-of-the-art educational facilities, and retrofit existing school cafeterias. The project will consolidate school food processing and preparation at the new food hub, while also reducing staffing pressures faced by schools and increasing the nutritional value and local focus of the foods served at 16 component school districts and at CVES BOCES.

Hochul’s team said, “Administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Regional School Food Infrastructure Grant program is providing the resources schools need to aggregate, store, process and prepare farm products, and making it possible to cook fresh, nutritious, scratch-made meals for school children. The program also encourages 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.

State Education Commissioner Dr. Betty A. Rosa said, “Connecting local farms to school nutrition is a win-win for our students and New York’s farmers. Consistent, reliable access to nutritious meals is directly linked to improved student performance and to overall health and well-being. We appreciate the ongoing cooperation of the governor and the Department of Agriculture and Markets in ensuring that all students have access to a healthy diet. Through the Regional School Food Infrastructure Grant program, we will build upon New York’s ongoing efforts to provide all students with access to healthy and nutritious meals made with fresh and local fruits, vegetables and dairy products.”

Superintendent Dr. Tonja M. Williams said, “The Buffalo Public Schools provide Buffalo students and those in the community with free locally grown fresh foods while at the same time creating a sustainable new marketplace for local, socially/economically disadvantaged farmers and growers. I applaud Gov. Kathy Hochul and Agricultural Commissioner Richard Ball for providing this $5 million to help reduce food insecurity and ensure our students continue to receive high-quality nutritious meals that enhance their overall health and improve their readiness for learning. Again, this funding will go a long way towards providing our students with fresh and healthy foods when at school.”

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