BOCES grant to finance a program from the farm to the school

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Some schools in the area will soon be serving more local foods.

BOCES Oneida-Herkimer-Madison is redoubling its efforts to purchase more locally grown and produced food from its member districts' cafeterias, thanks to a $ 100,000 grant from farm to farm. school school. The funding will support food services in 31 schools in 14 districts.

The money will be used to pay for the purchase of equipment, staff training and the transformation of the BOCES Food Center central kitchen from Perry Junior High School in New Hartford into a mini-feeding center, said Kate Dorr, Director Assistant to OHM BOCES lunches. The center will be able to collect and, in some cases, process the food for distribution to other schools.

"This idea of ​​merging and distribution is one of the main challenges from farm to school and, in fact, from the use of farm products all over the world," said Dorr. "From a farmers' point of view, they do not necessarily want to go to different places, so we can not go out and get products from different farms on a regular basis." . "

Under this system, all apples, squash, zucchini, cabbages, etc., will go to Perry and then be sent to cafeterias located in the BOCES service area. In some cases, before being shipped, they can be peeled, chopped, frozen or cooked.

"It's a lot easier to use peeled and diced butternut squash than peeling and dicing squash (in every school)," Dorr said.

And the hub will have equipment – a high-capacity food processor, an immersion blender, a shock cooler – not available in all cafeterias, she said. Thus, one day, the concentrator may freeze zucchini bought in summer, while they are abundant and inexpensive in the middle of winter, or that apples are transformed into applesauce or that the tomatoes in tomato sauce are used throughout the school year.

Dorr said the program should start operating in April so that students can see more local foods starting in September.

The grant was part of an $ 1.5 million grant awarded throughout the state to support efforts ranging from farm to school.

OHM BOCES already uses local milk, apples and hot dogs and offers a "harvest of the month" program that introduced local products – such as butternut squash in schools this month – into schools but the grant will help to use more local products. often, says Dorr.

From farm to school supports local farmers, gives students healthy food, explains the origin of food and makes school lunches more popular, Dorr said.

"It has to be win-win-win for kids, for communities and for farms so we can change the culture of food," she said.

Contact Amy Neff Roth at 315-792-5166 or follow her on Twitter (@OD_Roth).