November 23, 2015

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce More Than $120,000 in Federal USDA Funding for Agricultural Centers in Rochester

USDA Farm to School Funds Will be Used to Bolster Child Nutrition Programs

Rochester, N.Y. – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $122,544 in federal funding for Foodlink, Inc. and Wayne-Finger Lakes Board of Cooperative Educational Services. The funding allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Grant Program was created to increase local foods served through child nutrition programs, teach children about agriculture, and develop schools’ and farmers’ capacities to participate in farm to school programs. Specifically, Foodlink, Inc. will receive $100,000 in federal funds to purchase equipment needed to increase production of value-added processing commodities for local schools. Foodlink will increase the amount of produce purchased from local farms, and increase processing and distribution directly to schools in desirable quantities for school food service. The purchase of automated slicing machines will enable Foodlink to increase output of sliced apples and begin to pilot new commodities like broccoli florets and shredded cabbage. Wayne-Finger Lakes Board of Cooperative Educational Services will receive $22,544 in federal funds to develop effective distribution processes for available local foods, provide training to food service personnel, and create a unique curriculum for a farm to table program for students.

“It is essential our children learn the value of healthy eating at a young age,” said Senator Schumer. “Not only will this federal funding help school districts and food service organizations in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region access nutritious foods for students, but the meals will also be locally sourced. This means both our local farmers and our kids benefit – making it a win-win for New York’s agricultural industry and the community as a whole.”

“We need to make access and serving healthy food at our schools a priority,” said Senator Gillibrand, the first New York Senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years. “By investing in nutrition initiatives for our schools, we are not only ensuring kids are eating nutritious food, we are also creating opportunities for our local farmers. Through these additional resources, Foodlink and the Wayne-Finger Lakes Board of Cooperative Educational Services will able to expand their ability to reach more schools with local products.”

“Foodlink is thrilled to receive a USDA Farm-to-School grant for the expansion of our Value-Added Processing facility,” said Julia Tedesco, Executive Director, Foodlink. “New processing equipment will enable us to provide ready-to-eat local products like sliced apples to schools throughout the Greater Rochester and Finger Lakes region. With updates to our facility and equipment, Foodlink can continue to improve the connection between local farms and underserved institutions, including schools.”

“Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES is proud to be partnering with area schools and organizations to create unique opportunities to better serve the over 4,700 students in the Finger Lakes Consortium,” stated Scott Bischoping, District Superintendent of Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES.  “This grant will provide us with the unique opportunity to create a curriculum for future implementation of a Farm-to-Table program for area students, laying the groundwork for a career in agriculture.”

Farm to school programs are one of the many tools and resources USDA offers to help schools successfully serve healthier meals. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 authorized and funded USDA to establish a Farm to School Program in order to strengthen or develop new partnerships, collaboration between eligible schools, nongovernmental and community-based organizations, agricultural producer groups, and other community partners to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools.