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Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks have announced the allocation of an $8.4 million state grant aimed at purchasing school food directly from local farmers.

June 2, 2023

Program Will Increase Purchasing of Local and Regional Foods for Use in School While Supporting Local, Small to Mid-Scale, Historically Disadvantaged Farmers, and Producers

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David C. Banks today announced that the DOE Office of Food and Nutrition Services (OFNS) has been awarded $8.4 million through the Local Food for Schools grant. The funds, allocated by the New York State Education Department, will be used to purchase locally grown foods from local producers, small businesses, and historically disadvantaged farmers and producers.

“From introducing Plant-Powered Fridays to launching our inaugural Chefs Council, the changes we’ve made to our school menus have been nothing short of transformative,” said Mayor Adams. “Now with this new grant, we will deepen our efforts to ensure all our children have access to healthy, nourishing, culturally appropriate meals, in partnership with our local producers.”

“Schools are the centers of our communities, and our school food programs go beyond providing every student with a nutritious meal each day. A major focus for NYC Public Schools is ensuring that the meals we serve contribute to our sustainability efforts and bolster our local economic communities,” said DOE Chancellor David C. Banks. “I’m thrilled to further deepen our partnership with New York State producers and farmers through this grant, working together to raise our next generation of sustainable and health-minded leaders.”

“This is a big win-win for our students and local farmers/producers, helping to ensure that the food we serve in schools is healthy, and locally sourced and grown,” said Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture Executive Director Qiana Mickie. “The Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture is focused on creating opportunity for our local farming community, while ensuring that New Yorkers benefit from increased access to fresh, healthy food. This grant will go a long way towards deepening that mission.”

“Healthy school meals are a priority of the Adams administration from Meatless Mondays to Plant-Powered Fridays to this Local Food for Schools grant announcement,” said Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie. “This grant will help to strengthen relationships with local producers and ensure our children sustain healthy diets to fuel academic excellence.”

“We are thrilled to receive the Local Food for Schools grant, which will allow us to further support our local communities and continue to provide nutritious meals to our students,” said DOE Office of Food and Nutrition Services Senior Executive Director Chris Tricarico. “By incorporating even more locally grown foods into our menus, we are not only ensuring the quality of meals but fostering a connection between students and the local food ecosystem, building a healthier and more sustainable future for New York City’s school communities.”

The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program, between the New York State Education Department and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), aims to increase purchasing of local and regional foods for use in schools and support local producers. It also aims to remove barriers and create lasting connections to strengthen food systems within school communities; strengthen partnerships between farmers/producers and schools; and engage with new local producers to bring them into OFNS’ regular school food pipeline.

OFNS will leverage its partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture to identify a cohort of small to mid-scale, historically disadvantaged urban and rural New York State growers who are interested in entering the school food market. OFNS and the Office of Urban Agriculture will collaborate on training these producers so they can have an easier pathway to apply for OFNS contracts and sell their products to DOE schools. The Local Food for Schools funding will help procure fresh vegetables from these farmers, which will include diced white potatoes, diced butternut squash, green cabbage, corn on the cob, green bell peppers, and more.

The support provided through the training will directly increase the number of certified M/WBE, Good Agriculture Practice, and New York State Grown and Certified producers. It will also build relationships between local producers, DOE, and other city agencies.

The partners include:

  • NYC DOE Division of Contracts & Purchasing
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension/Harvest NY
  • Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture

The OFNS contract management team will ensure a proper procurement process, and the supply chain will support distribution across schools. The menu management team will incorporate the new items into school lunch menus. DOE Division of Contracts & Purchasing oversees solicitations and purchases. Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Office of Urban Agriculture will support producer outreach, engagement, and training.

“It is vital that all children have access to healthy food at school,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “I am proud that this grant is made possible by federal funding through USDA’s Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program. This important program will help support local New York farmers and producers while ensuring that children are being fed nutritious meals at New York City schools.”

“Hungry students can’t learn — which is why I’m pleased the DOE has been awarded this grant to deliver fresh, sustainably-sourced, and healthy food to our school communities,” said U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler.

“Our city’s school children deserve the highest quality healthy food for their school meals,” said U.S. Representative Nydia Velázquez. “This new grant program will not only benefit our kids, but also the local producers, small businesses, and historically underutilized farmers and producers that feed our communities. Thank you to Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks for your leadership in strengthening our school food system and ensuring that New York City’s youth get the nutrition they need.”

“Children should always have access to nutritious meals. This initiative, supported by federal funding, will provide New York City students with additional options of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables,” said U.S. Representative Gregory W. Meeks. “Creating a direct pipeline from local and historically disadvantaged farmers and producers to our school system not only ensures a healthier community, but also a more diverse and economically vibrant one.”  

“The Local Food for Schools grant is a win for all New Yorkers — from schoolchildren to hard-working farmers,” said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. “Parents know how vital a healthy meal is for the development of their children. Democrats are proud to have long been delivering on that promise while supporting dedicated workers all across the state. With this program, small businesses and farmers now have a crucial role in nurturing the next generation of New Yorkers. I commend Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks for this exciting partnership further entrenching the ties between our city and our state.”

“I commend Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks for this new $8.4 million in funding that will aid farmers and schools alike,” said New York State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud. “By opening a pathway to apply for Office of Food and Nutrition Services contracts and sell to public schools, we are ending barriers and strengthening connections between food and students.”

 “As the lead sponsor of the universal school meals legislation and budget campaign in the Assembly, I’m excited that New York City will receive this grant to purchase school food locally,” said New York State Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas. “School meals are essential to the health and academic achievement of our students because you can’t teach a hungry child. This grant will ensure that we can continue to do so while supporting our vibrant and integral agricultural industry in New York. Thank you to all of our government partners who helped make this happen.”

“Not only is the option of farm-fresh food important for our students, as it provides them with the nutrients necessary for their growth and development, but it also supports our local economy,” said New York State Assemblymember Chantel Jackson. “Many children in my district would greatly benefit from having access to fresh food options, and with this access, they will group up to develop healthier eating habits.”

“I commend Mayor Adams for his everlasting commitment to bringing healthy food to our children and am proud to be a state partner in this endeavor,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “Today, the mayor is taking the exciting step of building a pipeline of fresh food for children. He is strengthening the partnership between farms and schools. In New York City, an alarming one in four children is food insecure, and the number of children seeking food aid increased 55 percent during the pandemic. I was proud that we addressed this crisis in Albany, passing a budget that funded universal school meals, and Mayor Adams is now taking the next step by bringing expanded healthy food options to our children, while supporting our local farms, small businesses, and historically disadvantaged producers. Best of all, this initiative will allow our children to get the nourishment they need to excel in school and in life.”

“Supporting New York City’s public-school students with healthy nutritious meals is a key ingredient to their success,” said New York State Assemblymember John Zaccaro Jr. “Today’s announcement by Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks fills an essential need to bring foods from locally sourced producers and small businesses into our schools. This $8.4million grant will not only benefit every student who partakes in the school meals program but will also lower our carbon footprint by sourcing directly from local farmers while helping to support historically disadvantaged farmers and producers.”

 “I am proud to see the budget we delivered in Albany providing healthy, locally sourced produce at schools across the city, in addition to the $135 million in funding for free school meals — a crucial investment in our students’ success and wellbeing,” said New York State Assemblymember Alex Bores. “I am also glad to see Mayor Adams, Chancellor Banks, and OFNS emphasize equity in the procurement process.”

“Serving locally grown food in our schools nourishes students and enriches historically disadvantaged communities,” said New York City Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers. “I thank Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks for their leadership on this issue, and I look forward to continued efforts to foster healthy eating in schools, combat food insecurity, and empower local food producers.”

“By investing $8.4 million in state grants to purchase school food from local farmers, we are going to nurture a stronger and more resilient community,” said New York City Councilmember Rita Joseph, chair, Committee on Education. “This program not only ensures the availability of nutritious meals for our students, but also empowers our local, small to mid-scale, historically disadvantaged farmers, and producers. Together, we are sowing the seeds of a healthier future, rooted in sustainability and equity.”

“This is a great step towards providing New York City’s schoolchildren with a steady flow of high-quality produce, while also supporting small farmers who are often overlooked by city and state policies,” said New York City Councilmember JoAnne Ariola. “Farmers and small businesses are vital to the success of our city, our state, and our country, and I am glad to see a grant like this to help support them.”

“Congratulations to the DOE’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services and to Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture director Qiana Mickie for obtaining the funds to purchase fresh food from New York State farmers,” said New York City Councilmember Gale Brewer. “I’ve long fought to leverage the city’s purchasing power to benefit local farm producers. In 2011, as a councilmember, I passed Local Law 50 that gave city agencies the tools to purchase food from local farmers. The law also required reporting on the percentage of their local food purchases. In addition, with Cornell Cooperative, I organized several trips with city commissioners and agency staff to farms so they could see the great products and immense capacity for growing fresh fruit and vegetables. Staff from the Department of Education as well as the school food workers have been particularly supportive of efforts to incorporate local foods. Students will be happy to eat in school cafeterias when state-grown products are on the menu!”

“Locally grown food is an incredible investment for our schools and will provide nutritious meals made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients,” said New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez. “By prioritizing local food, the DOE will support the local economy, reduce carbon emissions, and promote healthy eating habits in our schools. Our students deserve a more substantial and equitable food system, and this initiative will be instrumental in narrowing that gap.”

“New York’s farms and food producers work hard to feed our communities and provide fresh, local products to help fuel our students and their learning,” said New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball. “I am proud of New York’s ongoing commitment to strengthening our food system and programs like our Farm-to-School program and the New York State 30% Initiative, which are bringing healthy, local foods directly into our schools in New York City and across the state. I congratulate the New York City Department of Education on the award of this grant funding, which is another critical step in connecting the dots to provide healthful New York food for students while providing economic benefits for all farmers across New York.”

“Schools are a fundamental part of every community,” said New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “The Local Food for Schools grant funding will help foster deep connections to food and farming. This collaboration will result in healthier, happier students who are better prepared to thrive in school.”

“Healthy, locally sourced food is vital to support student learning and development,” said New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young Jr. “This program will help grow and strengthen our networks to provide healthy New York food for students in underserved communities, giving them the much-needed access to wholesome meals daily.”

“New York state is a true cornucopia, growing and producing local food of all kinds, sustainably feeding people right here at home and around the world,” said Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ronald P. Lynch Dean Benjamin Houlton. “I am delighted about this partnership, which leverages connections between CCE and the farm to school efforts, demonstrating how Cornell continues to advance the marketplace for home-grown agricultural products that ensure food equity and justice.”

“This is an historic moment,” said Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship Executive Director Phoebe Schreiner. “The barrier to entry for institutional markets has consistently been high among New York’s majority small farms, competing with large scale distributors. The grant creates a ‘quadruple triple win’ for New York’s communities by recirculating taxpayer dollars; creating opportunities for small and socially marginalized producers who have traditionally been shut out of institutional contracts; ensuring children of all zip codes enjoy healthful, nutrient dense and culturally appropriate local food; and delivering for our planet by reducing ‘food miles.’ New York City’s public school districts are now leading the rest of the state and even the nation for building the kind of food system we want to see.”

“We’re thrilled to see this historic investment in technical assistance and increasing sales from local growers to New York City’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services,” said Center for Good Food Purchasing Director of Institutional Impact Laura Edwards-Orr. “Through the leadership of OFNS within the Good Food Purchasing Program, the impacts will go well beyond the city and state boundaries — offering learnings and inspiration to schools and other public institutions across the country.”

“Edible Schoolyard NYC supports access to more produce for all New York City students, and the Local Food for Schools award will help make that possible,” said Edible Schoolyard NYC Executive Director Shanon Morris. “It will also enable the pipeline which procures the produce our students eat in school to better reflect the wide array of cultural backgrounds comprising our school communities.”

“The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program is a significant investment in strengthening our food system and supporting New York farmers,” said Education for New York Farm Bureau Senior Director of Public Policy and Promotion Renée St. Jacques. “It can be difficult for some farms to navigate the procurement process, but this grant will make it easier to build bridges, ensuring New York City students have fresh food and our farmers have new market opportunities.”

Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks have announced the allocation of an $8.4 million state grant aimed at purchasing school food directly from local farmers.

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