Farm to School grant program continues this year

ALBANY—The New York State Department of Agriculture has announced that $1.5 million is now available to expand farm-to-school programs across New York.

The Farm-to-School Grant Program helps kindergarten through grade 12 schools increase the use of locally grown food on school menus, enhancing nutrition for students while providing an economic benefit to New York’s farmers.

A portion of the funding, $300,000, will be dedicated to applicants that have not received an award in previous rounds of the program.

“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,” said Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball. “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.”

Applicants eligible for Round 8 of the Farm-to-School Grant Program include kindergarten through grade 12 school food authorities, charter schools, not-for-profit organizations and Indian tribal organizations.

Grants ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 will be awarded for projects that focus on increasing the amount and variety of New York state farm products in school meal programs, which includes school lunch, school breakfast, school snack and/or summer meals programs. Eligible costs include contractor services, staff training, food for menu development and taste-tests, transportation costs (including the leasing of a vehicle for a two-year period or purchasing of vehicle), supplies and equipment permanent physical/structural improvements, insurance and permits (excluding permit to operate a farmers’ market at proposed location) and salaries and wages including fringe benefits.

Applicants can view the request for proposals (RFP) on the department’s website at Proposals must be received by June 27 at 4 p.m. For more information, contact Courtney Bailey at [email protected].

State Sen. Jake Ashby, (R-C Castleton) who represents a large portion of Washington County, saidof the program, “This is a win for our agricultural sector, and it’s a win for students who deserve healthy, nutritious meals at school. It’s been working well since its inception, and I’m pleased to see it expanded with new investments to serve new student populations. I’d encourage all area schools to apply.”

Since the launch of the Farm-to-School Program in 2015, $8 million has been committed to support Farm-to-School projects across the state.