A message from AFT's Farm to Institution New York State Team
No one should lose or fear for their life, especially while shopping for food. We want to call out and condemn the white supremacist terrorist attack in Buffalo on May 10th, a direct attack on Black and Brown communities in Buffalo. Our FINYS team extends support, love, and care, and stands with the Buffalo community, our many partners in the region, and all those who were impacted by this act of hatred. This violence demonstrates why it is so necessary to incorporate antiracist language and programming into our work, not only because it occurred in a grocery store, the heart of any community, but also because the history of racism and anti-Blackness is interwoven with the food system in the United States in many ways. To read more about the ways in which this tragedy is directly connected to our local food systems and communities, please see the Buffalo Food Justice Advocates and Partners Call For End to White Supremacy and Anti-Blackness.
The FINYS Team
New York Farm to School Institute Updates: Celebrating Our Alumni, Welcoming a New Cohort
From Mikaela Perry, FINYS Associate and Institute Coach
After an incredible nine months, we would like to recognize the fantastic work and dedication of the eight school teams who participated in our annual Farm to School Institute. They were officially welcomed as alumni of the program on May 13th at Indian Ladder Farms, sharing their many Farm to School projects such as collaborating with the community-based nonprofit Mixteca in Brooklyn to providing decorated bags of produce for community fridges, hosting monthly farmer spotlights in the cafeteria, and creating student-run farmers’ markets!
We are also pleased to welcome our new New York Farm to School Institute cohort for the 2022-23 school year. After our most competitive application cycle ever, we will be kicking off a year of farm to school programming and coaching for six schools on June 28th at Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction.
Celebrating Asian American and Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM)
May is Asian American and Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), where we recognize, celebrate, and honor the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and embrace AAPI communities that have enriched our country for generations. First established in 1979 and then reaffirmed by Congress in 1992, APAHM was created to highlight the rich histories of Asian immigrants within the United States and acknowledge the resiliency of Asian and Pacific Islander communities throughout a history in an often unjust and inequitable America.
The label Asian Americans was coined by Yuji Ichikoka in the 1960s to give a political voice for those coming from the broad swath of countries deemed “Asia”. Asian Americans have played, and continue to play, an important role in shaping farming and food culture in America. Their contributions to the American agricultural and culinary landscape are reflected in our farms and on our plates today.
Resources to celebrate APAHM:
- Check out our Local NY Dried Beans Guide for a delicious Korean-Braised Black Bean (Geomeun-kongjorim) recipe.
- Incorporate inclusive books and curricula in the K-12 classroom that celebrate the Asian and Asian American experience:
- Watch the movie Minari or read Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (the essay of the same name can be read on the New Yorker website) or Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
- Support New York Asian American farms and purchase produce from Good Chi Farm in Kingston, Asian Vegetable CSA in the Hudson Valley, Gopal Farm in New Paltz, Choy Division in Chester, or Sang Lee Farms on Long Island.
- Read about Asian American history and resiliency in agriculture:
Staff Shortages and a Missing Groundhog Mascot: Overcoming Farm to School Challenges and Coming Out Ahead at CAP Cayuga Seneca
To say the Farm to School team at CAP Cayuga Seneca had experienced a few bumps in the road in 2021-2022 would be putting it lightly. The seven-member team that began as the “Sustainable Seven” in August 2021 had dwindled down in numbers due to job transitions and perpetual staff shortages caused by COVID-19. Even their unofficial mascot, Tuck the Groundhog, who had been a constant source of inspiration (and irritation) in the school garden, was nowhere to be seen and presumably had abandoned ship.
While all the changes confronting CAP Cayuga Seneca were certainly challenging, the central New York nonprofit community action agency had made a pledge to serve their students. With a population of 364 children ranging from infants to 5-year-olds, the program spans across Cayuga County and four school districts, serving both urban and rural populations. All who attend the CAP Cayuga Seneca program are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and the CAP Cayuga Farm to School team was motivated to weave together local food and gardening education in both the cafeteria and the classroom for their students this year.
Cultivating Collaborations in Farm to School
FINYS is proud to launch a year long farmer focused series, Cultivating Collaborations in Farm to School, which will continue our efforts to foster & strengthen partnerships between NYS farmers and schools to support a resilient food economy. This series is designed in particular for small/ mid-scale, farmers of color, and other historically resilient farmers in our state. Our first set of offerings in the series is the video release of the FINYS Farmer Readiness Scan Info Video on May 18th. We built the Farmer Readiness Scan to gain more information on farmer supply & interest in sourcing to schools as well as help tailor our technical support to farmers. The goal is to build & foster better connections between farmers and FINYS Institute school teams that make their school food decisions. To offer extra support in completing the Scan, the FINYS team is offering “office hours” also starting in June in case farmers have additional questions about Farm to School or need help completing the Scan.
Registration will provide links to the Farmer Readiness Scan explainer video, the FINYS Farmer Readiness Scan tool, & FINYS Team office hours. You will also get a spot in the May 25th virtual session at 12- 1 pm EST, “Steps to a Seasonal Menu”. More details on the video and the session can be found on the registration page.
Supporting Kids and Local Farms in the New York State Budget
New York continues to invest in our nation–leading farm to school programs – the Farm to School Reimbursement Incentive and the Farm to School Grants program were funded again this year at $10 million and $1.5 million respectively. The New York Grown Food for New York Kids Coalition worked hard to expand the refund incentive to include all school meals, not just lunch, and will continue to push for this critical change in next year’s budget. Expanding the program will make it easier for more schools to participate, ensuring that more New York kids have access to healthy local food throughout the school day!
News, Events, Jobs, and Funding Opportunities
Farm to Institution New York State is a collaborative initiative led by American Farmland Trust to strengthen the economic security of farmers and the health of New Yorkers by empowering institutions to spend at least 25% of their food budget on foods grown in New York.
Header Image: Farmer Paul Fenton shows tomato crop to Buffalo Public Schools Farm to School team (left), and elementary student in Broome county eats New York state apple (right). Photo credit: Josh Baldo for AFT.