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 an amazing 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
In 2016, American Farmland Trust and the Leadership Team conducted an intensive evaluation to identify the most important ways for FINYS to dramatically expand farm to institution across New York. The result is three integrated focus areas with an emphasis on empowering institutions to spend at least 25 percent of their food dollars on food grown in New York.
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.
- Check out the New York Grown Food for New York Kids campaign
Educating Institutions About Buying Locally
The Local Food Buyer Learning Center trains and supports institutions in expanding local food purchases. A Local Food Buyer Toolkit will offer modules on topics like:
- Getting started with farm to school
- Georgraphic preference in school food purchasing
- Incorporating New York-grown food in food service contracts
- Menu strategies for local foods
- Tracking food to its farm origin
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, including state agencies, K-12 schools and SUNY colleges, and project the impacts of expanding local food purchasing. Institutions that make progress towards and achieve the goal of spending at least 25 percent of their food dollars on food grown in New York will be promoted to inspire other institutions to follow their example.
American Farmland Trust is grateful for the support of FINYS from the NoVo Foundation, Local Economies Project of the New World Foundation, Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, and the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, as well as Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education and the New York State Health Foundation.