Advancing Farm-to-Institution Policies in New York
Healthy Food, Healthy Lives
November 23, 2021
Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that satisfies their dietary needs and food preferences.
The link between food and health is clear. Nutritious food can act as medicine, helping to prevent and manage disease. But too much food, too little food, food that is not nutritious, or food that is not culturally appropriate can have serious health consequences. NYSHealth’s Healthy Food, Healthy Lives priority area works at the intersection of health and food to improve access to healthy and affordable foods, reduce food insecurity, and promote equity. To help leverage new and existing opportunities that promote promising policies and scale best practices, NYSHealth issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), “Advancing Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives.” Through this RFP, NYSHealth is supporting organizations across New York State working to improve food and nutrition quality; increase access to healthy and affordable food; and grow participation in food benefit and nutrition incentive programs. In 2021, NYSHealth awarded American Farmland Trust a grant to participate in this initiative.
Under this grant, American Farmland Trust (AFT) will lead a collaborative effort to advance a New York State farm-to-school program that increases local food spending in schools. Farm-to-school programs bring local food into cafeterias, uniting diverse stakeholders such as farmers, parents, health care providers, and educators. AFT will work with a broad team of leaders in agriculture and food, public health and nutrition, economic development, and other food-related sectors to pave the way for more schools to participate in the program. AFT and partners will help refine policies and priorities for the farm-to-school program, including incorporating breakfast, improving its administration and oversight, and ensuring all schools have the support they need to reach the budget thresholds for participation and reimbursement. AFT will also work to increase school connections with and procurement from small- and mid-scale farmers and farmers of color to advance racial, economic, and environmental equity in the State’s farm-to-school program.