The Promise of Farm to Institution in New York State
Institutions, such as schools, colleges and other organizations annually provide meals to millions of New Yorkers, including more than six million people fed by publicly-funded institutions. These meals can offer a dependable source of nutritious food and improve the health of children, seniors and other vulnerable communities.
Institutions can also be important players in strengthening New York's economy, with publicly-funded institutions alone spending nearly $1 billion annually on food purchases. Transforming the food economy by increasing purchasing of healthy foods and keeping food dollars in our local economy will impact the lives of millions of New Yorkers - from children eating lunch in school, to seniors consuming a meal at a center, to farmers looking to make a better living.
Fostering Collaboration to Change the Local Food Economy
Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS) is a collaborative initiative led by American Farmland Trust to dramatically expand the volume of food grown on local farms that is served in institutions across New York. We believe that transforming the local food economy requires systemic change and efforts of many - from agriculture, public health, economic development, environment, education and other sectors.
Our efforts are led by FINYS in conjunction with a Leadership Team, drawing together experts that are changing the local food economy across New York. The Leadership Team helps guide FINYS programs, while fostering stronger networks to grow the farm to institution movement across New York.
Our Areas of Focus
Advancing Public Policy
Public policy campaigns advocate for agencies and institutions receiving public funds for food purchases to buy New York-grown food, and to expand public funding available to institutions for purchasing those foods.
Educating Institutions About Buying Locally
The Local Food Buyer Learning Center trains and supports institutions in expanding local food purchases.
Inspiring Commitment & Framing Success
Transparency and documentation of changes in the local food economy are important to farm to institution success. We publish reports that analyze food purchasing in select institutional sectors and project the impacts of expanding local food purchasing.
Advancing Equity and Inclusion in Farm to Institution
We actively stand against racism of any kind, especially the anti-Black racism that is the historical foundation of our nation. We understand that racism is deeply embedded in both the agricultural and educational systems that FINYS works within. Despite having a long history of agricultural knowledge and expertise, only .5% of farmland in the United States is owned by Black farmers, and many Black and Brown communities face daily inequities in access to healthy, nutritious, and local foods. We also acknowledge that many schools within Black and Brown communities continue to be underfunded, under-resourced, and especially in the state of New York, zoned based on the state’s former segregation laws, which were never properly dismantled.
Given these troubling realities, and the FINYS mission to support the economic viability of ALL farmers, including BIPOC farmers, as well as strengthen the health of New Yorkers through empowering institutions to purchase local, nutritious food, we remain dedicated to increasing access and equity through our programming. We commit to undoing racism in our work and organization, we will work with leaders of color in this field, and we will advocate to make Farm to School in New York representative of our state’s incredible racial diversity.
American Farmland Trust is grateful for the support of FINYS from Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, as well as the New York State Health Foundation and members of American Farmland Trust.
Our Leadership Team
- Linda Garrett, American Farmland Trust
- Alexa Arnold, Foodcorps
- Sarah Brannen, Hudson Valley Farm Hub, New World Foundation
- Kate Dorr, New York School Nutrition Association, Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES
- George Edwards, NYC School Food
- Todd Erling, Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation
- Chris Hartman, Headwater Food Hub
- Terra Keller, Foodlink
- Katrina Light, Hudson Valley Farm Hub
- Mary Ellen Mallia, University at Albany
- Julie Raway, New York School Nutrition Association, Broome Tioga BOCES
- Erin Summerlee, Food and Health Network, Rural Health Network of South Central New York
- Cheryl Thayer, Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvest New York