Children enjoying school lunch in the cafeteria.
November 4, 2021
Albany, NY

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

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces $1.5 Million Available to Grow Farm-to-School Programs Across New York State
Program Provides Economic Benefits to New York Farmers and Brings More Local Food to Students
Applications for Round 6 Open Now Through December 30, 2021
Farm-to-School Program is Key Component of New York’s Goals to Combat Food Insecurity

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced that $1.5 million is now available for eligible school districts to support the growth of Farm-to-School programs across New York State. The program helps kindergarten through grade 12 schools connect with local farmers, increase the use of locally grown food on school menus, and improve student health, while providing increased economic benefits to New York’s farmers.

Commissioner Ball said, "The Farm-to-School Program is a great way to ensure New York’s students have access to fresh, healthy foods and they understand where their meals come from. I’m proud that this program continues to help schools tap into the local food movement and serve more healthy lunches with products either grown in their school garden or purchased from their community farmers. This is a win-win for our agricultural industry and for our state’s future leaders.” 

Applicants eligible for Round 6 of the Farm-to-School program include kindergarten through grade 12 school food authorities, public schools, charter schools, not-for-profit schools, and other entities participating in the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, or the Summer Food Service Program. Not-for-profit entities working with school food authorities and eligible schools are also able to apply, and projects that partner with producers and food processors are encouraged. The State is seeking proposals that will increase the capacity of schools to procure and serve New York State farm products in school meal programs.  

Grant funding of up to $100,000 per project will be awarded for proposals including, but not limited to:  

  • employing a local or regional farm-to-school coordinator;  
  • training for food service staff to increase knowledge of local procurement and preparation of locally produced food;  
  • purchasing equipment needed to increase capacity of school kitchen and food service staff to prepare and serve locally produced food;   
  • completing capital improvements to support the transport and/or storage of locally produced food; and  
  • creating new food products for the menu.  

Up to $500,000 of the funds will be earmarked for applicants that have not received a Farm-to-School award in previous rounds. 

All applicants to Round 6 of the Farm-to-School Program must register and apply through Grants Gateway. Proposals must be received by December 30, 2021 by 4:00 pm. For more information, visit or contact Emily Cook at [email protected]

Since the launch of the Farm-to-School Program in 2015, $6.8 million has been committed to support Farm-to-School projects across the state. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has awarded a total of 119 projects, benefiting hundreds of school districts in every region in the state.   

Find out more about the Farm-to-School Program

New York State’s No Student Goes Hungry Initiative  

The Farm-to-School Program is a major component of New York State’s ongoing efforts to combat food insecurity, increase the amount of fresh, local foods served in schools, and to connect New York's farmers to new markets. It is a key part of the No Student Goes Hungry initiative and the New York State 30% initiative, which increases the reimbursement schools receive for lunches from 5.9 cents per meal to 25 cents per meal for any district that purchases at least 30% of its ingredients from New York farms. Last year, 47 school districts achieved the purchasing requirement, with some school districts spending over 40% of their lunch budget on New York State farm products.  

Additionally, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets secured a 2021 USDA Farm-to-School grant award in 2021 to leverage technology to achieve farm-to-school goals. This project will research available technology platforms that will help schools apply for the 30% initiative and house farm-to-school educational materials that can be accessed by school nutritionists, food service directors, or teachers.

New York State Office of General Services Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner Roslyn Watrobski said, “As the State’s administrator of the USDA pilot program for the procurement of unprocessed fruits and vegetables, we at OGS stand strongly behind Governor Hochul’s efforts to grow Farm-to-School programs statewide. When students learn more about the importance of a healthy diet and where the nutritious food in their cafeterias comes from, it benefits them and the people who farm, distribute, and sell that food.”

New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “Students that have access to healthy, locally sourced food are not only better prepared to be successful in school, they also learn of the benefits of a well-balanced, nutritious diet.  New York’s Farm-to-School Program has been a wonderful way to supplement food options in schools across the state and I thank Governor Hochul for expanding this important program.”