Oneida-Herkimer-Madison (OHM) BOCES, based in New Hartford, has been awarded $100,000 for its Farm-to-School program, as part of state funding totaling $1.5 million for 16 such projects across New York.
The projects funded, which are geared to increase the use of New York farm products in schools and boost the agricultural economy, will benefit more than 120,000 students in 144 school districts, according to an announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The OHM BOCES funding involves its Farm-to-School: Increasing Capacity and School Engagement project, which will work with districts to help them develop and execute local food implantation plans and develop infrastructure to facilitate the purchases, the announcement said. The project will benefit 9,258 students in 15 school districts.
Cuomo said of the statewide Farm-to-School funding awards, “this is a win-win that provides students with nutritious meals while also strengthening New York farms....I’m proud to see the growth of this initiative that will also help encourage healthy habits in every corner of this great state.”
The program increases the volume and variety of locally grown and produced food in schools, provides new markets for New York’s farmers, improves student health, and educates young people about agriculture, said the announcement. The state funding will be used to hire Farm-to-School coordinators; train food service staff; provide nutrition education in classrooms and cafeterias; purchase equipment to support food preparation; and support the purchase of more local farm products, such as fruits and vegetables, dairy, and beef used in school lunches.
OHM BOCES also received $100,000 last year for its Farm-to-School program. This week’s awards marked the fifth round overall of state funding for such programs.