The Farm to School Program is an initiative that aims to connect schools with local farms to provide fresh, healthy food to students and promote local agriculture. With the goal of providing numerous benefits to students, farmers and communities, it's become a popular way to support local agriculture and improve school access to healthy food.
The American Dairy Association North East recently helped launch the program in Western New York schools, just ahead of Earth Day. According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, 50 school districts in the state are participating in the Farm to School Program, making it the largest in the country.
This program's goal is to help increase access to fresh, local produce for students and support local farmers and their communities.
"Real food tastes real good, and a lot of young people, unfortunately, haven't had the opportunity to always have access to real food,” New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball said. “And a sad commentary is that for many young people, that lunch at school, that breakfast at school is probably the best of it for the day."
Local farmers are also benefiting from the Farm to School Program, as they can sell their products to schools at fair prices. This has helped to support the local economy and promote sustainable agriculture practices.
One example of this is Kelly Reynolds, a dairy farmer who supplies milk to schools all over New York state.
"Our milk goes to Upstate Niagara Cooperative, where it is locally produced in Buffalo and Rochester in Western New York,” Reynolds said. “And then it goes to schools all over New York state on our family dairy farm. [We have] 1,500 milking cows. They get milked. They roam around in their pens. They eat a nutritious, balanced diet. Our cows have a nutritionist. And just like these students have a nutritionist that they work with at their school. We want to make sure that our milk is healthy and nutritional for those students."
The Farm to School Program in New York State is aiming to provide fresh, healthy food to students while supporting local farmers and communities. As many continue to prioritize healthy eating and sustainable agriculture practices, the Farm to School Program hopes to play a critical role in ensuring that students have access to fresh, nutritious food while supporting local farmers and communities.