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New York selected for USDA program of local food in schools

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Staff writer ▼ | December 10, 2014
New York State has been selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to participate in a federal pilot program for the procurement of locally-grown produce in New York State schools.
New York school food
Good news   Next week, OGS will begin talking with farmers
The Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables was included in the 2014 federal Farm Bill and creates a new project to procure unprocessed fruits and vegetables.

New York is one of eight states selected to participate in this first-of-its-kind federal initiative, the application for which was submitted by the New York State Office of General Services.

New York's pilot will be administered by the State Office of General Services (OGS) and will begin in Rochester. Next week, OGS will begin talking with farmers, food hubs and schools in the region about the program and how they can participate. Because many of the Rochester organizations have not worked with the USDA before, OGS will help walk them through the process.

Though still in the early stages, the program has already been successful: In 2013, Benton Berries, a local farm in Penn Yan, NY, made weekly deliveries of tomatoes to Binghamton, Johnson City and Owego-Apalachin school districts.

Approximately 3,000 pounds of local tomatoes were served in 16 cafeterias to more than 11,500 students in total that year as a result. Also in 2013, the Binghamton City School District served approximately 12,000 pounds of local apples from Reisinger's Apple Country, an orchard in Watkins Glen, N.Y, to 6,000 students in 10 school cafeterias.