Federal funding to increase New York foods in schoolsStaff writer ▼ | March 23, 2016
New York State has been awarded nearly $100,000 through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Grant Program to better connect local farmers and school.
Empire State Binghamton, Cortland and Marathon School Districts
“Ensuring that our youngest New Yorkers have access to fresh, nutritious food is essential to the future of this state,” Governor Andre M. Cuomo said.
“This funding will further our efforts to encourage healthy eating habits at a young age, strengthen this state’s agricultural industry, and build a stronger and healthier New York.”
The USDA grant funding provided by the Department of Agriculture and Markets to Broome-Tioga BOCES will impact 9,957 students across the three school districts.
Broome-Tioga BOCES will work in partnership with Broome-Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Food and Health Network of South Central NY FAHN to facilitate training for local growers interested in connecting with schools.
The organizations will also provide guidance for producers looking to shift from other markets to school and institutional sales.
The 2016 Farm to School Grant Program aligns with New York State’s priorities to strengthen ties between local farmers and school districts through the State’s Farm to School program, which launched in 2015.
Six school districts were awarded a total of nearly $325,000 in October. In addition, Governor Cuomo has proposed up to $500,000 to be invested in the state’s Farm to School program this year.
The program also builds on funding previously awarded to New York State under the USDA’s early pilot program. In December 2014, the Office of General Services joined the pilot program that enabled local school districts to use USDA funding to purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables from approved vendors.
As of the 2015-2016 school year, the program has grown to 97 school districts. There are currently 17 approved vendors on the USDA Approved Vendor List for the pilot program, with an additional 14 vendors that have applications into the USDA.
Since the inception of the program, school districts have utilized nearly $364,000 in USDA funds for the purchase of local fruits and vegetables. ■