Image: School Food Infrastructure Grant Hero
June 4, 2024
Albany, NY

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces $1.5 Million Available to Expand Farm-to-School Programs Across New York State

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces $1.5 Million Available to Expand Farm-to-School Programs Across New York State
Program Provides Boost to New York Farmers and Brings Healthy, Local Food to Students
Applications Open Now Through June 27, 2024; Portion of Funding is Reserved for New Applicants
Farm-to-School Program is Key Component of New York’s Goals to Support a Strong Local Food System

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced that $1.5 million is now available to expand farm-to-school programs across New York State. New York’s 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.

Commissioner Ball said, "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. 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, 2024, at 4:00 pm. For more information, contact Courtney Bailey at [email protected].

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. Including non-competitive awards during the pandemic that were given to all schools that reached a 30% threshold of New York-sourced ingredients, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has awarded a total of 139 projects, benefiting hundreds of school districts in every region in the state.

Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “Providing students with healthy, locally-sourced meals is one of the best investments we can make in their development while delivering powerful economic drivers for New York farm businesses. I'm excited that new funding is available to expand New York's Farm-to-School program statewide, including support for schools starting their first-ever programs. We encourage all eligible schools to apply!"

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said, “New York's Farm-to-School Program incorporates fresh, locally grown foods into school menus, while teaching students an important lesson about where their food comes from. This funding will allow the program to expand into more schools across the state, providing nutritious foods to students and economic benefits to our farmers. This new round of grants can be used for a variety of purposes, all designed to make it easier for schools to incorporate healthy, NY farm products into the meals they serve.”

The Farm-to-School Program is a major component of New York State’s focus on strengthening its food supply chain, including combatting food insecurity and increasing access to food in underserved communities. The State has launched several groundbreaking programs in recent years to improve access to healthy, locally grown foods and to bring New York-grown foods and beverages to communities that need it most as well as New York State schools. In addition to the Farm-to-School program, the New York State 30% Initiative and child nutrition programs administered by the State Education Department (SED) are focused on buying more local products from New York farmers and increasing healthy and nutritious local foods for New York school lunches.

Additionally, New York State’s Regional School Food Infrastructure Grant Program recently awarded $10 million to projects in Western New York and the North Country to improve meal preparation and distribution for kindergarten through grade 12 students. First announced in the Governor’s 2023 State of the State, the program will provide $50 million over five years to eligible applicants in all ten regions of New York State to facilitate the on-site processing and preparation of fresh, nutritious meals, increase the use of more healthy, local New York food products, and provide a boost to New York farmers. The Regional School Food Infrastructure program builds on New York’s many programs that prioritize local foods in schools, including tools to help school districts procure and purchase farm products from local producers, ensuring that New York remains New York’s first and best customer.