Poughkeepsie, N.Y. – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $100,000 in federal funding for the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. 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. The Poughkeepsie Farm Project will foster Poughkeepsie City School District students’ understanding of the local food system and help develop fresh produce in the region during in-class cooking workshops focused on vegetables, through taste tests in the school cafeterias, and engagement in experiential learning on field trips to its 12-acre urban farm. Poughkeepsie Farm Project will train and support district educators in school gardening through its professional development program.
“It is essential our children learn the value of healthy eating at a young age,” said Senator Schumer. “Not only will this federal funding allow the Poughkeepsie Farm Project help students at the Poughkeepsie City School District access nutritious foods, 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 the Poughkeepsie Farm Project will be able to expand their ability to reach more schools with local products.”
“We are so honored and thrilled to be recognized for our Farm to School collaborative success and this chance to continue building on that foundation to make local food and agriculture an ongoing and prioritized part of the Poughkeepsie student’s experience,” said Lee Anne Albritton, Executive Director, Poughkeepsie Farm Project. “This award will also help us to broaden our impact by continuing to train Poughkeepsie teachers in our Using Gardens to Teach program so that they can teach academic content through school gardens.”
“The Poughkeepsie Farm Project is a model of collaboration in the farm-to-school field through their educational programming and strong partnership with the City of Poughkeepsie School District,” said Bob Dandrew, Director of the Local Economies Project. “They have built a solid foundation in their community with teachers, food service professionals, students, and parents, which has supported a measurable expansion of healthy food access in the district. This USDA grant provides a wonderful opportunity to further root the program throughout the district and community.”
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.