Monday, September 28, 2015

Funding Available to Help School Districts Put Local Food in School Cafeterias

A new funding opportunity has been announced to help school districts across New York state connect to local growers and producers to increase the use of locally grown specialty crops. 

Through the Farm to School program, $350,000 in grants is now available for projects that will help pre-K through grade 12 schools procure and serve healthy, locally grown foods on school menus.

The deadline to apply is 4:30 p.m. Oct. 19. Awards will be made in November 2015.

The Farm to School program is aimed at developing and strengthening connections between farms and schools to help grow the agricultural economy and increase the amount and variety of specialty crops procured by schools for healthier meal options. 

New York state produces a wide range of specialty crops, such as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, herbs and spices, which rank highly in the nation in terms of both production and economic value.

Applicants for the program can include Pre-K through 12 school food authorities, charter schools, not-for-profit schools, and other entities participating in the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs and/or operating Summer Food Service Programs.
Projects eligible for grant funding across New York’s school districts may include:

** Employing of a local or regional farm to school coordinator.

** Training programs for food service staff to increase knowledge of local procurement and preparation of locally produced specialty crops.
** Purchase of equipment needed to increase capacity of school kitchen and food service staff to prepare and serve locally produced specialty crops.
** Capital improvements to support the transport and/or storage of locally produced specialty crops.
The commissioners from the state Departments of Agriculture and Markets, Health and the Office of General Services joined leaders from the New York Apple Association, Farm Fresh First, Empire Potato Growers and New York State Vegetable Growers Association, Brockport School District and the New York City School Support Services, to discuss increasing the procurement of New York state food products in New York’s more than 700 schools. 

The discussion centered on the growers’ delivery system and the school districts’ needs and purchasing process, and how to make it easier to bring the two together.

For more information on the Farm to School Grant program, click on this link -- .

All applicants must register and apply through the Grants Gateway portal at this link and use the Program Identifier "FTSCG."

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