Institutions such as schools, colleges, and hospitals provide meals to millions of New Yorkers—more than six million people in state funded institutions alone, including over 1.6 million children in K-12 schools. With many mouths to feed and logistics to coordinate, bringing local food on to the plate can be a challenge.
As the coordinator of American Farmland Trust's Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS) initiative, I am pleased to announce the launch of our new Local Food Buyer Learning Center. This online training center is designed for food service professionals, administrators, and their institutional and community partners. The main goal of the Learning Center is to put more New York grown food on the menu of millions of state residents by giving institutions the tools and knowledge to establish sustainable local food purchasing programs.
Initially, the Local Food Buyer Learning Center will provide modules from our recently-published Local Food Buyer Toolkit with new tools and educational opportunities being added in the future. The first module, Getting Started: Building a Solid Foundation for Farm to School, is focused on K-12 schools, but the concepts can be applied to a broad range of institutional settings.
What the Getting Started module covers:
- Building a Farm to School Team (worksheet)
- Creating a Farm to School Mission Statement
- Developing a Farm to School Action Plan (worksheet)
- Why Your School Wants to do Farm to School (checklist)
- Helpful Examples from New York Schools doing Farm to School
Bringing it Back to Farmland
New York's institutions offer important markets for the state's farmers. Publicly-funded institutions alone spend nearly $1 billion every year on food purchases. By encouraging institutions to buy more food grown locally, we can offer farmers a chance to diversify and grow their businesses for improved viability—enabling farmers to stay on the land and continue farming.
The goal of the Local Food Buyer Learning Center is to help institutions spend at least 25% of their food budget on food grown in New York—putting more food dollars into the hands of the farmers in our own backyard.
Visit the FINYS website to learn more.