NYC’s public schools expand farm to school programming, improving nutrition access

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Source: New York City Public Schools
Source: New York City Public Schools

Related tags New york city Access to nutrition Education Usda

New York City Public Schools’ Office of Food & Nutrition Services (OFNS) received $200,000 from USDA and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) for agricultural education programming, enhance local produce sourcing from marginalized producers and farmers, and learning gardens across the city’s public schools.

The new funding from federal and state Farm to School grant programs will improve agriculture and food education for nine high-need schools in all five boroughs, including the High School of Environmental Studies in Hell’s Kitchen, by fostering stronger connections with local farmers and improving food and economic equity in historically underserved and marginalized communities.

The USDA Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program bolsters local farmers and producers by increasing the availability of nutritious foods in schools. The program also fosters hands-on agricultural learning experiences for students, including activities like planting, harvesting fruits, vegetables and herbs.

New York State’s Farm-to-School Program supports education for 360 students in six schools across the five boroughs by connecting schools with local farms and food producers to strengthen local agriculture, improve student health and promote awareness around regional food systems.  

The program provides more “local, nutritious, seasonal and culturally appropriate meals to New York students” by supporting technical and promotional assistance to schools, farms, distributors and other supporting organizations, according to a statement released by City Hall.

New York City Public Schools’ Office of Food and Nutrition Services (OFNS), in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture (MOUA) and Cornell Cooperative Extension, will also offer training for marginalized and minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBE), urban and rural growers. The farmer/producer training will build a more diverse vendor pool by increasing M/WBE-certified businesses to compete for city food contracts and creating local procurement opportunities from these businesses.

The new funding will support hands-on farm to school education programming, including farmer visits to schools, farm visits for students and an accelerated M/WBE certification program for producers.

“Farm to school programming not only promotes healthy food lessons – it also increases students’ understanding of the importance of agriculture in climate justice. The USDA and NYSDAM Farm to School grants will give crucial support to high-need schools in all five boroughs to increase food equity and community connection during the school day and ensure the development of future climate stewards and food system changemakers,” said Elijah Hutchinson, executive director, Mayor’s office of climate and environmental justice.


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