At the end of June, FINYS held our fourth annual New York Farm to School Institute, where six school teams from across the state came together at the Mabee Farm Historic Site. Over the course of three days, the school teams learned about farm to school opportunities, and met with their colleagues and a coach to design action plans for the upcoming school year. We were joined by speakers such as food justice expert Qiana Mickie of QJM Multiprise, farm-based education specialist Jamie Levato of Fareground, Inc., and the chefs from Lenox Hill who led a live cooking demo for food service professionals.
Participants learned about incorporating culturally responsive foods into their menus, building sustainable relationships with farmers, and designing equitable curricula among other topics. We also enjoyed incredible local food from across the state, including wood fired pizzas by Pies on Wheels topped with local vegetables, as well as flavorful farm-to-table Korean fare by Sunhee’s Farm & Kitchen featuring foods fresh from an affiliated farm in Cambridge, NY. New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball came to speak on Wednesday night, and Capital Roots also provided an educational tour of their food hub operation.
Teams worked to develop their action plans, outlining programs such as cafeteria taste tests, harvest of the month education in classrooms, and farm to school program promotion for parents and the broader community. By the end of the retreat, most participants noted that it was “the relationships built throughout this entire retreat” that were the most valuable take away from their experience. We are so grateful to have shared these three days with such a great group of professionals in a gorgeous setting along the Mohawk River and look forward to sharing out the teams’ progress throughout this school year. The next application cycle for the annual NY Farm to School Institute will open in January 2023, and we look forward to continuing to support farm to school programs around the state!
The FINYS Team
USDA Farm to School Grant Awards Announced
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is awarding more than $10 million in Farm to School Grants to 123 projects across the country. Additionally, for the first time, the department is empowering states with $60 million in non-competitive grants to develop stronger and more sustainable Farm to School programs over the next four years. Both actions will help more kids nationwide eat healthy, homegrown foods. The 123 projects funded by the fiscal year 2022 competitive grants will serve more than 3 million children at more than 5,000 schools in 44 states and the District of Columbia.