New York Farm to School Partnership Awards

February 16, 2017

The New York School Nutrition Association (NYSNA) and New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets have selected three New York Farm to School programs for 2017 Farm to School Partnership Awards. Read more about the winners in this excerpt from NYSNA's magazine:

Building partnerships and Integrating Farm to School into Wellness Activities

Congratulations to Beacon City School District and partner organizations, Hudson Valley SeedCommon Ground Farm, and Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County. They have established and grown a strong Farm to School program that has served to support student and community wellness.  

Karen Pagano, Beacon City School District Food Services Director, has taken an instrumental lead in building a strong Wellness Committee, which includes participation from each partner organization, parents, administrative staff, and teachers from each school. Each partner organization has found a unique way to support and enrich the lives of our students--through hands-on curriculum-based learning, direct contact with fresh food and local food professionals, and opportunities for students to develop vocational skills.

The food-based educational programming supports Pagano’s work to ensure that every student has the opportunity to eat--and is excited to eat--nutritious food. In addition, all partners have worked with Karen Pagano to strengthen and implement the BCSD’s wellness policy, and have implemented several collaborative wellness programs, including a walk to school day and a family fun wellness night for all elementary schools in the district.  


Building partnerships and Integrating Farm to School into Wellness Activities

Congratulations to Oneida-Herkimer-Madison (OHM) BOCES.

Waterville Central School, a component district of the OHM BOCES, has been a leader in the Farm to School movement and supported a dedicated effort to expand the use of locally-grown products in school food programs across the region. The Waterville Board of Education partnered with OHM BOCES to treat Waterville as a pilot site for that purpose and with funding from the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties was able to secure a Farm to School Coordinator responsible for the effort. While OHM BOCES is slowly but surely expanding their Farm to School efforts, Waterville’s FTS Coordinator has grown the district program by leaps and bounds.

Farm to School and Wellness Activities of OHM BOCES and Waterville Include:

  • Harvest of the Month (HOM) –10 HOM items are adopted at the beginning of the year. Each month, students are exposed to the HOM item prepared two different ways- once as a sample item either in class or in the cafeteria and then as part of the school lunch meal. Each time, the item is prepared a different way in an attempt to encourage and engage students in trying it. HOM items, 75% of which are purchased from local farmers, are noted on all OHM BOCES component school menus along with cooking and eating tips.
  • New York State Food Days-  Once a year, all OHM BOCES component districts serve a lunch that features primarily NYS items (e.g., beef burritos made with NYS beef and cheese; cheese quesadillas featuring NYS cheddar cheese; Chobani yogurt; NYS apples; NYS assorted vegetables; and NYS milk.
  • Agriculture Summit Round Table – a convening of community and schools designed to strengthen relationships with the agriculture community and OHM BOCES programs.
  • OHM BOCES monthly nutrition newsletter “Nutrition Notes” includes Farm to School and local food promotion.
  • Big Apple Crunch- Students around the region all “crunched” into a locally grown apple on October 24th, National Food Day. Parents are engaged through communications that are sent home with students after each event to expand on classroom education. (Waterville CSD)
  • A Did You Know “DYK” marketing strategy was implemented. The DYK facts cover information about the HOM items, New York State Agriculture, Agriculture, and Nutrition and are distributed through administrative and faculty correspondence, announcements, the Farm to School web page, as well as during school activities.
  • The Waterville FTS program was highlighted in the NYS Comptroller’s October 2016 report, Locally Grown: Farm to School Programs in New York State.

Merchandising/Promoting Local Foods is Buffalo Public Schools

Congratulations to Buffalo Public Schools.

Buffalo Public Schools partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie CountyMassachusetts Avenue Project and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to plan for 12 months of Harvest of the Month program. This group of community leaders meet monthly to coordinate activities for the Buffalo Farm to School program. Working with the farming community and the produce distributor a calendar for NYS Harvest was determined. Once the NYS harvest was selected the recipe development and ordering was determined for the schools.

Some of the highlights were:

  • Each month a newsletter and infographic are developed to provide nutrition and agriculture information to student, families and faculty. A Buffalo artist, Julian Montague designed the featured monthly harvest posters and then creates a 2 page newsletter that went to the school communities. This newsletter contains information highlighting all kinds of information about the harvest -- the nutrition, how its grown, where its grown, how to store it and how to cook it.
  • This past spring students and staff were able to go to area farms. Students visited dairy farms to see how milk is produced. They were also able to see spring greens growing and pick strawberries. In the fall students and staff were able to go apple picking & learn about fruit trees and other types of produce that is harvested in October. Pre and post surveys were given to students to evaluate this experience. 60% of the students were able to report learning something new about farming and produce growing in NYS.
  • In September Buffalo Public Schools had a Farm to School kickoff event which included a Farm to School Chef Challenge. F-bites is an organization that provides after school programing that utilizes local chefs to teach students culinary, leadership and living skills provided three after school culinary sessions for students using Buffalo Public Schools harvest of the month produce items. These students were then teamed up with the 4 local chefs in the chef competition. Each chef was given the task of creating a school lunch meal that meets all of the USDA requirements utilizing root vegetables and locally raised and processed ground beef.  A judging panel consisted of a student, food service worker, farmer, chef and BPS board member. A local radio personality emceed the event and three news stations featured the competition on the evening news, announcing the winner live! Families and faculty from the 12 pilot schools were invited to attend the kickoff where they were treated to a farm to table meal while they watched the chef competition unfold, Chef Warhol from Oliver’s restaurant came in first place. The winning menu- Shepherd’s Pie, was featured on the December school lunch menu. A video of the chef challenge was created. 

FINYS extends our congratulations to the winning school districts and program staff. Keep up the great work!