Updated: Jul 10
Here at Comfort Food Community (CFC), one of our main goals is to get more fresh, local produce onto the plates of local people. A newer initiative toward this goal is the Farm-2-School (F2S) program. Since its inception in Fall 2022, F2S has been facilitating the purchase of New York State food by local school districts. CFC bridges barriers like location, storage limitations, and school size that have prevented schools from being able to purchase these foods in the past. This program allows us to support local farmers while providing our community’s youth with nutritious food!
From shelf-stable items and frozen fruits and vegetables to apples and local greens, CFC's Farm-2-School program flourished in its first year delivering more the 90,000 pounds and over 60 different types of products to our school partners. Meaghan Wilkins of Argyle Central School District weighed in saying, “I think the biggest service CFC provides for us at Argyle Central School is options – if there are new items available, we will most likely try them. Students are willing to try anything when done in a fun environment with their peers. Getting them to eat veggies and fruit that they haven’t had before is a huge goal and CFC is part of that process.”
The main barriers for many of our school districts are their ability to place orders large enough to justify delivery from a NYS supplier and their ability to facilitate the transport of food from a regional drop-off location to their school kitchen. This is where CFC steps in. We place large orders that can then be broken down into smaller deliveries we bring directly to area schools. “As a Food Service Director who had been struggling to make the connection with area farmers, growers, and producers, CFC has filled in the missing link in the chain,” explains Lisa Tevendale from Corinth Central School District. “We knew that there were many great products available in New York State but getting it to our door was always our biggest obstacle.”
While rural areas produce the majority of our country’s food, the people who reside in these communities are often the last to have access to the benefits of fresh and local foods. “Our school district is located in an area rich with agriculture, yet many small farms don't have the capacity to hand-deliver their product to us,” says Sarah Keen of Schuylerville Central School District. “CFC has bridged that gap and brought a wide array of New York State products into schools throughout the region. Local food is fresher, more nutritious, and provides a higher quality meal for our students.”
CFC is proud to be part of a larger community effort to bring local and New York State foods to the students in our community. Josh Stephani, CFC Food & Farm Hub Manager and head of the Farm-2-School initiative said it best, “We’re trying to solve issues related to getting healthier food directly into the mouths of our school children and communities and reduce the systemic barriers plaguing rural communities in New York State. If we’re doing that, then we’re doing our job.”