Who's participating in New York's Grape-to-School program?
Through the end of the school year, 10 districts will serve NYS Grown and Certified Concord grape juice on their menus.
In addition, the participating districts will provide educational activities and taste tests to promote New York agriculture and expand locally sourced products on school menus.
Farm-to-School partners celebrated the new pilot program at Armor Elementary School in Hamburg as part of the NY Thursdays local lunch program.
The students, grades K-5, enjoyed a 100% locally-sourced meal, including NYS Grown and Certified Concord grape juice cups provided by New York Juice Company, NYS Grown and Certified beef hot dogs from Slate Foods, Marquart Farms' New York chips, Bandit Beans from the Genesee Valley Bean Company, and NYS Grown and Certified milk from Upstate Farms.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is working in partnership with American Farmland Trust, through New York State's collaborative Farm-to-Institution initiative, on the pilot program.
Westfield Maid Cooperative and Long Island-based beverage manufacturer, New York Juice Company, partnered to produce and package the cups filled with Concord grape juice.
The districts taking part in the Grape-to-School pilot program include:
Beacon Central School District, City of Beacon, Dutchess County
Buffalo Public Schools, City of Buffalo, Erie County
Hamburg Central School District, Town of Hamburg, Erie County
Maine Endwell Central School District, Broome County
Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES, Oneida, Herkimer, and Madison counties
The Renaissance Charter School, Queens
Schoharie Central School District Town of Schoharie, Schoharie County
Sidney Central School District, Town of Sidney, Delaware County
Whitesboro Central School District, Village of Whitesboro, Oneida County
Windsor Central School District, Town of Windsor, Broome County
New York Juice Company and Westfield Maid, New York State's first NYS Grown and Certified juice processor, are supplying more than 65 additional districts across the state with the juice cups, which contain Concord grape juice.
The juice purchases help schools meet a goal of purchasing 30% of their food from local sources so they can qualify for higher school lunch reimbursement rates.
The four-ounce juice cups are filled with a new "Growing Grape" flavor.
The NYS Grown and Certified seal, displayed prominently on each cup, lets consumers know that the juice is made from grapes grown by New York farmers who are committed to meeting high food safety standards and demonstrating environmental stewardship. ■