Students in the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison (OHM) BOCES Food Service Program, based in New Hartford, will soon benefit from a $100,000 award from the state to support the BOCES Farm-to-School Program.
The funding is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1.5 million in awards to support Farm-to-School programs statewide in his No Student Goes Hungry initiative, said OHM BOCES, adding it is the only organization to receive the funding in the Mohawk Valley.
The Farm-to-School program increases the volume and variety of locally grown and produced food in schools, improves student health and educates young people about agriculture.
The state award will support upgrades to OHM BOCES Food Service’s warehouse and central kitchen, allowing it to function as a mini food hub for better access and distribution of locally grown food. It will also support collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County and the Mohawk Valley Farm-to-School Initiative to provide additional staff training and coordination of area Farm-to-School projects and programming.
The project will directly impact 31 schools in 14 districts, nearly 13,000 students who purchase school lunches through the OHM BOCES Food Service program, and will boost sales for 30 farmers and producers across the Mohawk Valley, said BOCES.
“This award is a game-changer; it will truly allow us to take our farm-to-school efforts to the next level,” said Kate Dorr, OHM BOCES assistant school lunch director. “Students are going to be exposed to locally grown food on a regular basis. That shift will be essential in changing the food culture of school lunch.”
This is the fourth round of funding to support Farm-to-School programs since 2015. OHM BOCES said it has worked closely with Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County, which previously received two rounds of funding.