OHM BOCES Awarded $100,000 by NYS to Support Farm-to-School Program
Students in the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES’ Food Services Program will soon benefit from a $100,000 award from New York state to support the BOCES Farm-to-School Program.
The money is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s $1.5 million in awards to support Farm-to-School programs across New York state as part of the Governor’s No Student Goes Hungry initiative. The OHM BOCES is the only organization to receive the funding in the Mohawk Valley.
The funding will support upgrades to the OHM BOCES Food Service’s existing 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 trainings and coordination of Farm-to-School projects and programming in our community. The project will directly impact the 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.
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.
“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.”
Throughout the state, funding will also 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, vegetables, nuts and herbs used in school lunches.
This is the fourth round of funding to support Farm-to-School programs since 2015 when the Governor launched New York’s Farm-to-School program. The OHM BOCES has worked closely with its valued community partner, Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County, who received two rounds of funding in the past.