Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
 Farm to School in New York

Food Service Directors

Over 40% of school districts in New York State have embraced Farm to School and the numbers are growing!¹

New York State rewards schools who incorporate New York State ingredients into their menus. Learn more about funding opportunities on the Child Nutrition Knowledge Center.

¹ Based on USDA Farm to School Census Estimations.

 Benefits of Farm to School
  • Prepares children to learn: Diet quality and nutritional status are associated with a child’s ability to focus and learn. By providing fresh, nutritious and delicious schools meals, a student’s academic performance may be enhanced.
  • Improves health and well-being: Establishing healthy diets in childhood – those rich in a diversity of fruits and vegetables – is important for life-long well-being. Farm to School, with its focus on a well-balanced diet including fresh, minimally processed fruits and vegetables, offers schools an exciting way to positively impact children’s health and well-being throughout their lives.
  • Strengthens the local economy: By supporting local farmers and distributors, schools help keep and re-circulate dollars in the local economy. Also, any purchase of New York State product contributes to the NYS tax base, which in turn, funds NYS public schools.
  • Builds healthy communities: By connecting health concerns, education and local farmers and processors, NYS Farm to School can help to:
    • Address diet-related problems among our youth
    • Develop an appreciation for the importance of agriculture
    • Preserve open-space and the natural environment
    • Promote strong community food security networks
 Farm to School Quick Tips

Starting a Farm to School program comes with many considerations:

  • Creating bid language favorable to sourcing from local producers
  • Planning your menus to match with when products are in season
  • Preparing taste tests for students to gauge what they like
  • Speaking with your supplier to see what local product they can get
  • Reviewing pricing for locally-grown products and budgeting for this
  • Coordinating with educators on promoting the new foods used in menus
  • Finding local farmers to work with

Please visit our Resources page to access information about procurement, where to find farmers, Harvest of the Month toolkits and posters, educating children about Farm to School, and more!

 Finding Local Producers

What constitutes a Farm to School program in New York State?

Finding local sources of food to use in school meals. Use these lists as a starting point for finding ingredients to use in school meals, ingredients originating in New York State.

Many resources are available to help you locate New York State grown or processed foods.

*Please visit this page often for updates.*

 New York State Grown and Certified
New York State Department of Agriculture publishes a list of producers participating in the New York State Grown & Certified program, which indicates food items were grown or harvested under commodity-specific safe food handling and environmental stewardship practices. The label lets you know your food was grown to the highest standards, right here in New York State.

 GAP or GHP Certified Farms
USDA publishes a national database of producers adhering to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP), voluntary audits that verify fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.

 USDA Organic Integrity Database
USDA publishes a national database of businesses and farms that are certified organic according to an approved certifying agency.

 Farm Product Dealers License List
New York State Department of Agriculture publishes a list of licensed businesses who buy or receive an excess of $10,000 of New York farm products from New York State producers for resale. Dealers are licensed annually on May 1st of every year until April 30th of the next year.

 Sources of New York State Dairy Supply

NYS Department of Agriculture and Marketsí Division of Milk Control developed a list of three types of licensed dairy producers: dairy plants, dairy distributors and wholesale frozen dessert manufacturers.

Dairy Plants: Any person who operates any single location or mobile unit which pasteurizes fluid milk or manufactures milk into other dairy products.

Dairy Distributors: Any person who receives, purchases, handles, or sells fluid cows' milk. By definition the law defines a person as any individual, firm, corporation, partnership, limited partnership, association, limited liability company, cooperative cooperation, unincorporated cooperative.

Frozen Dessert Manufacturers: Includes ice cream, frozen custard, French Ice cream-French custard ice cream, artificially sweetened ice cream, ice milk, freezer made shakes, fruit sherbet, water ice, quiescently frozen confection, quiescently frozen dairy confection, manufactured desserts mix, frozen confection, mellorine frozen dessert, frozen dessert mix, or any other product wits similar in appearance, odor, or taste to such products or are prepared or frozen as frozen desserts are customarily prepared or frozen, whether made with dairy products or non-dairy products.


Click on the blue markers to read regional stories on the impact of Farm to School across the state: