New York State In-depth

State Commissioner of Agriculture Announces $850,000 Available to Expand Farm-to-School Program All of New York | Local Announcements

ALBANY – New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced that $850,000 is now available for eligible school districts to expand farm-to-school programs across New York state. The program helps the kindergarten through 12th grade increase the use of locally grown foods on school menus while providing an economic advantage to New York farmers. A portion of the funding, $200,000, will be dedicated to applicants who did not receive awards in previous rounds of the program.

Commissioner Ball said, “The Farm-to-School program is a great way to ensure New York City students have access to fresh, healthy food and know where their meals come from. I am proud that this program continues to help schools tap into the local food movement and serve healthier lunches using produce either grown in their school garden or purchased from their farmers in the community. This is a win-win for our agribusiness and for our state’s future leaders.”

Applicants eligible for Round 7 of the Farm-to-School program include Kindergarten through Grade 12 school nutrition boards, public schools, charter schools, non-profit schools and other organizations participating in the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, , or the Summer Food Service Program.

Nonprofit organizations that work with school nutrition boards and eligible schools are also eligible to apply, and projects that work with producers and food processors are encouraged.

Grants of up to $100,000 are available 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 of foodservice staff to increase knowledge of locally sourcing and preparing locally produced food; Purchasing equipment needed to increase the capacity of the school kitchen and food service staff to prepare and serve locally produced food; Completion of capital improvements to support transportation and/or storage of locally produced food; and creating new food products for the menu.

An informational webinar will be held on November 30th. Registration is required for the webinar. For information, contact Emily Cook at [email protected]

Since the Farm-to-School program began in 2015, $6.8 million has been allocated to support Farm-to-School projects statewide.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has awarded a total of 116 projects benefiting hundreds of school districts across the state.

The farm-to-school program is an important part of New York State’s focus on improving its food system, including addressing food insecurity and improving access to food in underserved communities. The state has launched several groundbreaking programs in recent years to increase access to healthy, locally grown food and bring New York-grown food and beverages to the communities that need it most and to New State schools York. 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 produce from New York farmers and increasing healthy and nutritious local foods for New York school lunches.

Additionally, SED received nearly $12 million from the USDA Local Food for Schools (LFS) Cooperative Agreement Program to assist schools purchase local and regional food 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 forging new relationships between schools and local farmers.

New York State is funding a team of regional farm-to-school coordinators through the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Harvest New York program to assist local schools in developing local purchasing programs, connecting with local farmers and targeting the achievement of the Working towards goals 30% initiative.

Since 2020, the state has invested over $1.2 million in the Regional Coordinator program. Find and connect with a local coordinator here.

New York State has mobilized over $170,000 in federal funding for farm-to-school work through state farm-to-school grants received in 2021 and 2022. These grants will help support the management of the 30% initiative and provide two training opportunities for producers to access regional farm-to-school markets.

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