Supporting local farmers, sustainable agriculture, and access to fresh food in school cafeterias are all important policy goals. New York’s own Farm to School Program addresses these issues. The Program was initiated to provide healthy locally grown food to students by connecting them to local New York farmers. Through this relationship farmers receive an economic benefit while students are guaranteed access to a healthy meal. This already successful program will further expand if New York legislators are willing to invest in it.
The current New York budget plan seeks to support the Farm to School Grant Program by making $750,000 available to help the program. According to the Budget Briefing up to 15 new projects could be created to help local farmers sell their produce to NY school districts. Proposals also include increased funding for the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program. With increased funding to the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program students will be educated on the importance of eating healthy food. These investments will allow programs such as Farm to School to expand for future generations.
Unfortunately the only way these investments will happen is if New Yorkers push their legislators to invest in the Farm to School Program. Schools throughout New York serve nearly 1.7 million lunches and 500,000 breakfasts each day, but with less than one dollar to spend per meal, the state is often forced to make tough compromises. It is imperative that constituents contact their local officials to ensure that New York students are receiving quality meals at their school cafeterias.
Further investment in this program will have many benefits, as healthy and fresh food has been known to lead to increased student productivity. The program also provides a boost to local farmers and helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the distance produce has to travel to reach its final destination. Additionally, the program helps to combat obesity and food insecurity. Overall this program is very beneficial and the New York League of Conservation Voters will continue to advocate for further investment to help the students and farmers throughout New York.