New York farm-to-school programs to get additional grant funding from state

The state has announced it will award $1.5 million in grants to expand farm-to-school programs across New York.
Students working in a school garden
New York will award $1.5 million in grant funding to expand farm-to-school programs across the state.| Photo: Shutterstock

School nutrition programs in New York have an opportunity to get more local ingredients on students’ lunch trays.

The state has announced it will award $1.5 million in grant funding to expand farm-to-school programs across the state. It has also earmarked $300,000 of those funds to go toward applicants who have never received grants from the program.

The individual grants will range from $50,000 to $100,000 and are intended to help schools start or expand their farm-to-school program through purchasing equipment, holding staff training and more.  

"New York State’s Farm-to-School program helps schools overcome some of the challenges they may face in sourcing products locally and makes it easier for them to increase the use of New York grown foods straight from the farm,” New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said in a statement. “The funding available today will help to ensure that our students have access to fresh, healthy foods, increase students’ understanding of where their meals come from, and benefit our local agricultural economies statewide. I’m excited to see these projects come to fruition and look forward to continued connections between New York’s schools and farmers moving forward.”

New York has made a push for incorporating more local products in school meals over the past couple of years.

In August 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive order requiring schools to serve 30% of locally sourced products in their meals by 2027. The order also increased reimbursement rates for school meals.

In addition, the state recently awarded $10 million in round one of the state’s New York’s Regional School Food Infrastructure Grant Program.

The program made its debut last fall and is intended to support school nutrition programs’ efforts to improve cafeteria kitchens and create meals from scratch using local ingredients. The state plans to award $50 million in grant funding over the next five years to eligible applicants through the program.

Farm-to-school programs continue to grow at the federal level as well. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded 103 farm-to-school grants last summer as part of its Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program. The department says those grants reached an estimated 2,791 schools and more than 1.2 million students. 

The USDA has also partnered with organizations like the Chef Ann Foundation to launch additional grant programs geared toward strengthening the supply chain for school nutrition programs and getting more local ingredients in school meals.



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