A New York program provides money for schools to use produce from local farms in school lunches. ( Image courtesy of Pixnio/Amanda Mills )

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that $1.5 million will go to 16 Farm-to-School projects, increasing access to local produce in schools. 

The projects will benefit more than 120,000 students in 144 school districts statewide, according to a news release. The program’s funding comes from the governor’s 2020-21 executive budget and supports Cuomo’s No Student Goes Hungry initiative.

“This is a win-win that provides students with nutritious meals while also strengthening New York farms,” Cuomo said in the release.

The Farm-to-School program’s mission is to increase the volume and variety of locally grown and produced food in schools, provide new markets for New York’s farmers, improve student health and educate young people about agriculture. The program also supports the expansion of the NY Thursdays program, a school meal initiative that uses local foods on Thursdays throughout the school year.

The funding will be used to:

  • Hire Farm-to-School coordinators;
  • Train foodservice staff;
  • Provide nutrition education in classrooms and cafeterias; 
  • Purchase equipment to support food preparation; and 
  • Support the purchase of more local farm products, including fruits and vegetables, for school lunches. 

Forty-three projects have benefited 526,000 students in 356 school districts since the program began in 2015, according to the release.

“Through the support of the program, our school districts are taking incredible steps to serve fresh fruits and vegetables and locally produced meats and dairy products from New York farmers, bringing thousands of students food and beverages that not only taste good but that are good for them,” New York agriculture commissioner Richard Ball said in the release.

Visit the New York governor’s website to see which projects were awarded.

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