Happy Farm to School Month and National School Lunch Week! Each October provides us with an opportunity to reinvigorate our dedication to bringing local food into the classroom, cafeteria, and community and reflect on all that we have accomplished so far. At FINYS, we have a lot happening this month! We are launching our new website after a complete redesign to better highlight all the farm to institution resources we have to offer and share the success stories of folks from across New York state. We are also hosting an advocacy workshop on October 24th focused on building buy-in for your farm to school program by developing an elevator pitch.
Lastly, we have some bittersweet news to share with you all about some transition within the FINYS team. Our FINYS Program Associate Mikaela Perry has been promoted to New York Policy Manager for American Farmland Trust. While we are sad to lose Mikaela as a valued member of the FINYS team we are looking forward to continuing to work with her on farm to institution policy and her leadership of the New York Grown Food for New York Kids Coalition. This means we are also hiring a new FINYS Associate – please share the listing with your networks and anyone you know who may be a good fit to join our team!
The FINYS Team
We Have a New FINYS Website!
In the years since we first launched our Farm to Institution New York State website, our programming has grown immensely. We have published research, developed toolkits and guides for our Local Food Buyer Learning Center, launched the New York Farm to School Institute, continued to build the New York Grown Food for New York Kids coalition, and more. It became clear that it was time to redesign our website to match the growth of our work and make it easier to learn about our programs, access resources, and read farm to institution success stories. After a long and reflective process that included a website user survey last year, we are happy to announce the launch of our new FINYS website! Click the link below to see it for yourself!
FINYS is Hiring!
As an integral part of the AFT team, the FINYS Associate will work within Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS), a collaborative initiative led by AFT that aims to strengthen the economic security of farmers and the health of New Yorkers by empowering institutions to spend at least 25 percent of their food budget on food grown in New York. The Associate plays an important role in fostering connections with institutional partners, building and maintaining collaborative networks with aligned stakeholders, developing resources for institutions through the Local Food Buyer Learning Center, planning and supporting the year-long, annual New York Farm to School Institute and providing ongoing coaching and technical assistance to farmers seeking to further their capacity to market to institutions. The Associate will help shape FINYS initiatives to support farmers and producers seeking access to institutional markets, including piloting regional New York Producer Trainings.
Advocacy in Farm to School: Crafting Your Elevator Pitch and Creating Program Buy-In
Join the American Farmland Trust and the Farm to Institution NY State team as we work with participants on crafting your own elevator pitch in order to gain buy-in and support for your farm to school program. This session will specifically focus on centering youth voices and communicating a sense of importance in order to grow your farm to school team within your school and community. Participants will work in small breakout groups with a facilitator and leave the session with the tools they need to create their own farm to school elevator pitch.
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 operations, farmers of color, and other historically resilient farmers in our state. We built the Farmer Readiness Scan to gain more information on farmer supply & interest in sourcing to schools, as well as to 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” 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.
Request for Applications Open for the 2023 USDA Farm to School Grants
USDA will award up to $12 million in competitive grants to eligible entities through the Farm to School Grant Program in FY 2023. Each grant helps implement farm to school programs that increase access to local food in eligible schools, connect children with agriculture for better health, and inspire youth to consider careers in agriculture. Since the program’s inception in 2013, USDA has awarded $75 million through Farm to School Grants, funding 1,019 projects across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico, and reached over 25 million students in more than 59,000 schools.
The RFA includes three tracks - Implementation, State Agency, and Turnkey - to support a variety of projects and implementation stages. Each track provides funding for a specific range of activities.
The Grant RFA can be found online here. Complete applications must be submitted on www.Grants.gov by 11:59pm ET on Friday January 6, 2023. To apply, applicants must obtain a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI), register in the System for Award Management (SAM), and then register at www.Grants.gov. Applicants are encouraged to begin this process early. For more information, please see Section 4.7 of the RFA.
News, Events, Jobs, and Funding Opportunities
- NEWS: Biden-Harris Administration Invests $80 Million to Improve Nutrition in School Meals, USDA
- EVENT: Professional Development Workshop at Trinity Valley Dairy, NY Agriculture in the Classroom, October 14
- EVENT: Professional Development Workshop at Pitney Meadows Community Farm, NY Agriculture in the Classroom, October 21
- EVENT: Advocacy in Farm to School, Webinar, FINYS, October 24
- JOB: Farm to Institution New York State Associate, American Farmland Trust
- JOB: Buyer & Market Matchmaking Consultant, CADE
- JOB: Farm-to-Institution Chef Educator, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
- JOB: Farm-to-Institution Communications Coordinator (Bilingual English/Spanish), Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
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.