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Local Foods, Healthy Schools - Farm to School

The Farm to School Program provides the opportunity for school cafeterias to serve more local, farm fresh food to students, offer education in the classroom on where food comes from, and overall strengthens the local community. Currently, five schools are working with the local Farm to School Coordinator on strengthening their program. The five schools include Duanesburg Central School, Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School, Schoharie Central School, Sharon Springs Central School and Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District. This program is intended to assist all five school districts to achieve the 30% New York State Initiative. Furthermore, it will help schools establish a stronger economic position to maintain or exceed a higher level of NYS farm product procurement through developing a Farm to School infrastructure. Relationships have also been established with Milford Central School and Cherry-Valley Springfield Central School as we have been expanding our program.

An additional feature of this program is Harvest of the Month. School cafeterias highlight a New York State product as part of the meal or in taste tests. At each school, a collaborative team has been put together with the Farm to School coordinator to help further develop their Farm to School program and address any challenges specific to that school.

Wait! Where did summer go? The Farm to School Program has been very busy this summer and we can’t believe it’s already September. In the end of June, we had the privilege to visit two local producers in Otsego County, Middlefield Orchard, and Dream Weaver Farm. We were accompanied by the food service directors from Milford, Cherry-Valley Springfield, and Sharon Springs Central Schools. At each location the food service directors were able to learn about the products that were grown, how they were harvested and able to ask questions about the operation. This was a great opportunity to start to build relationships between local producers and schools to offer more New York State products in school cafeterias. Thank you to these local producers for allowing us to visit to learn more about your operations and the food you grow.

We kicked off July by holding meetings with the food service directors in our program to complete tracking for the 30% New York State Initiative. The 30% NYS Initiative increases the reimbursement rate that schools can receive if they spend 30% of their total food costs for lunch on New York State products. Working with each school we were able to determine what products they currently purchase and were able to set goals for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year.

August is fair time and you may have seen us at the local county fairs. We had a display set up at both the Otsego and Schoharie County Fairs. We loved hearing feedback on what NYS items students would like to see offered at their school and suggestions for local producers in the area. Our experience at the county fairs helped us raise awareness of our efforts in local schools and strengthen our relationship with the local communities. Now, as the new school year is about to start we have been planning Harvest of the Month tastings for the school year and we think students are going to be excited to see what we are planning. Students, stay tuned for what New York State products your school will be featuring this year and please follow us on our Facebook page to follow our progress!

Stay tuned for reports on our progress in the program!

To learn more about Farm to School in Schoharie County, contact Shannon Sears at or call (518) 234-4303 x114.

Learn more about National Farm to School


Michelle Leveski
Nutrition Educator II
518-234-4303 x115

Last updated September 11, 2023