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Cuomo says East End schools to benefit from farm-to-school grants

Southampton students work in the school's organic garden

Southampton students work in the school's organic garden in an undated photo. The Southampton School District will receive a $94,863 grant for the farm-to-school program, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has announced. Photo Credit: Southampton School district

School cafeterias in several East End school districts soon will feature more local produce, after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that two districts are among those awarded farm-to-school grants.

The Southampton school district will receive $94,863 for the program and the Greenport school district will receive $68,820.

Statewide, awards totaling $500,000 will be used to hire farm-to-school coordinators; train food service staff; provide nutrition education in classrooms and cafeterias; purchase equipment to support food preparation; and increase the volume and variety of local specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs, used in school lunches.

“With the growing importance of health and wellness for our students, this grant provides an important opportunity to foster lifelong habits that will improve the lives of our children,” Greenport Superintendent David Gamberg said Thursday.

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,” Cuomo said in a statement earlier this week. “This is one more step toward a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

The Southampton grant will support the East End Farm-to-School Project, which benefits 1,650 students in three school districts — Southampton, Bridgehampton and Tuckahoe.

It will be used to hire a farm-to-school coordinator, train staff, provide nutrition education and integrate more locally produced specialty crops in school meal programs.

“The East End of Long Island has a rich agricultural history and is the perfect place to create partnerships between farmers and schools with the goal of increasing the volume and variety of local crops making it into school meal programs,” read a statement on the Southampton website.

In Greenport, the grant will benefit a consortium of six districts — Greenport, Southold, Mattituck-Cutchogue, Shelter Island, New Suffolk and Oysterponds.

The grant funds will support the district’s Nurturing Links’ North Fork Farm-to-Student Program. This project benefits the six school districts, which have a total of about 4,000 students, according to the governor’s office.

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 also will be used purchase equipment for school cafeterias, according to the governor’s office.

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