Maloney and Diana Announce Investment to Help Orange County Schools Buy Local Produce
Newburgh, N.Y. - Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Orange County Executive Edward A. Diana announced a $100,000 investment to connect Orange County school cafeterias with Hudson Valley farmers through the USDA “Farm to School” program. The Orange County Department of Health will partner with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County to form the “Healthy Orange Farm to School” program, which connects schools with local farmers, expands and strengthens community partnerships and education programs, and streamlines bidding and procurement processes. The USDA awarded 71 Farm to School grants nationwide and Orange County was one of just two projects awarded in New York State.
“This important partnership invests in our local economy, supports our Hudson Valley farmers, and provides our kids with fresh, healthy food. As the father of two middle schoolers, I know how important a well-balanced meal is to keeping our kids focused and helping them do better in school,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18).
“This grant from the USDA recognizes the hard work of our Healthy Orange team,” said County Executive Diana. “By working with Cornell Cooperative Extension, local school districts, and other community partners, they have created an innovative program that will surely enhance the health and well-being of our young people, while benefitting our farmers as well. Today’s students are tomorrow’s future and it’s critical that we help them get the right start.”
Orange County’s Healthy Orange Farm to School program will focus on those school districts in Orange County with the highest rate of free and reduced-price school lunches.
“Cornell Cooperative Extension is looking forward to focusing more time and resources to leveraging our relationship with farmers to carefully match their businesses with schools in Orange County seeking fresh local products,” said Maire Ullrich, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County.
USDA Farm to School grants help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods and increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses, including food processors, manufacturers, and distributors. In school year 2011-2012, school districts purchased and served over $350 million in local food, with more than half of participating schools planning to purchase more local foods in the future.