Greenport school district is one of two districts in Suffolk County to be awarded a New York State Agriculture and Markets farm-to school grant to supply fresh, locally grown foods to students across the North Fork and Shelter Island, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced today.
Greenport will receive $68,820 to support the district’s Nurturing Links North Fork Farm-to-Student Program, which benefits 4,000 students in six districts: Mattituck-Cutchogue, Southold, Greenport, Oysterponds, New Suffolk and Shelter Island.
Grant funds will be used to hire a part-time farm-to-school coordinator to train food service staff, introduce more local produce into school menus, and increase student knowledge of local foods. A portion of the funds will also be used to purchase equipment for school cafeterias.
“On behalf of a consortium of six school districts on the North Fork of Long Island, I am delighted to be one of only a handful of recipients of the farm-to-school grant,” Greenport Superintendent David Gamberg said. “We eagerly look forward to many opportunities to expand the health and wellness of the students, staff, and families of our respective school communities.”
Southampton school district will receive $94,863, which will support the East End Farm-to-School Project, benefitting 1,650 students in three districts: Southampton, Bridgehampton and Tuckahoe. It will support hiring a Farm-to-School coordinator, training food service staff, providing nutrition education and integrating more locally produced specialty crops in school meal programs.
“This is a great opportunity to provide healthier meals to students as well as educate them about the importance of good nutrition and how to achieve it,” Bellone said. “Our farmers will have a chance to show off their great products and connect with students to emphasize the importance of local agricultural efforts.”
Suffolk County had supported grants for the schools, facilitating the application process for local schools districts.
With $240 million in sales, Suffolk is the third-highest ranking county in the state in terms of the total market value for agricultural goods produced, according to a press release issued by the county executive’s office. In the latest Census, the number of farms in Suffolk climbed from 585 to 604 and the amount of land under cultivation increased from 34,404 acres to nearly 36,000, the release said.
Suffolk County agriculture is by far the most diverse in the state, Bellone said, and includes such products as corn, tomatoes, and potatoes, grape/wine, fruit trees and berries, greenhouse and nursery, livestock and dairy, hops and grains, mushrooms, and nuts, and shellfish aquaculture.
“These Farm-to-School programs are a win-win that supports New York farmers and helps ensure our children have access to healthy, locally grown produce,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “This is one more step toward a stronger, healthier New York for all.”
State grants were also awarded to the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County, the East Aurora Union Free School District, the Rural Health Network of South Central New York, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County and the New York City School District.
The farm-to-school grants announced by the state totaled $500,000.