Canandaigua Lake foodshed: Farm-to-cafeteria program

Final Report for CNE06-004

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2006: $9,053.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Deborah Denome
Seeking Common Ground
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Project Information


This is a collaborative project that is raising awareness about using local farm produce and products in institutions, and addressing the low volume of local foods being utilized by institutions in the Canandaigua Lake Foodshed region of New York. We first raised awareness of the benefits and opportunities of using local foods at a "Breakfast with Farmers" event in June 2006. Food Service Directors from local schools, a hospital and the county jail attended and savored a farm fresh breakfast, met local farmers, and heard presentations from those who are already successfully buying and selling local foods for use in institutional food service. Common barriers and opportunities were identified and addressed.

We then completed readiness assessments with interested farms and institutions and began the process of establishing vibrant farm-institution partnerships in the fall of 2006. The program generated $9,745.07 in new local product sales between September 2006 and June 2007. This was an increase of 10-40% in use of local foods at local cafeterias, exceeding our goal of an increase of 5-10% over 12 months. Participating cafeterias are expressing interest in using more local foods and new institutions are contacting us regularly. Our current constraint is the limited delivery/distribution systems locally and we hope to secure funds to address that issue moving forward. Certainly we have planted the seeds for these farm-to-cafeteria partnerships to become the norm, rather than the exception, in the Canandaigua Lake Foodshed.

Project Objectives:

The following are the objectives and performance that were stated in our original grant request.

May 2006: Handouts, slogan, brochure, and kitchen aprons created.
June 2006: “Breakfast with Farmers” held with at least 15 local Food Service Directors
Sept. 2006: Barriers/opportunities identified and addressed; purchasing relationships and farmer deliveries to institutions begin.
Fall 2006: Farm-to-Cafeteria celebration at each selected institution.
May 2007: Fact sheet completed and widely distributed.
June 2007: Program completion/evaluation

Of the above objectives, all have been completed in the initial grant period with the following exceptions. The kitchen apron was dropped due to lack of funding approval. Instead of a brochure, we created and advertised a webpage that can be continually updated which resides on the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County website. We only completed two of the four Farm-to-Cafeteria celebrations slated for the fall. The other two cafeterias are planning for Fall 2007 celebrations.

The proposed results that we expected and their measured outcome for the granting period were as follows:

1. Recording attendance and affiliations at “Breakfast with Farmers” event.

2. Surveying Food Service Directors (at the Breakfast) about their current interest and perceived ability to purchase more local products for use in their cafeterias.

3. Surveying Farmers (at the Breakfast) about their current interest and perceived ability to deliver more local products to local institutions.

4. Establishment of Farm-to-Cafeteria relationships for at least 4 local institutions
Recording of the types and amounts of local products purchased direct or ordered through a supplier by these 4 institutions.

5. Final survey of participating Food Service Directors and Farmers to determine their satisfaction with these new connections.

6. Final phone survey of all of the original (non-participating) “Breakfast with Farmers” attendees to determine if any additional institutions or farmers have created Farm-to-Cafeteria connections on their own.

7. Recording of the press surrounding the program, as it relates to increased public awareness.

The actual results and accomplishments and their outcomes/impacts are summarized in the following two sections. Each of the above desired results has been measured and we would rate the outcome a great success.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Nancy Anderson
  • Todd Fowler
  • Melinda Kinnear
  • Chris Luley
  • Pat Pavelsky
  • Jennifer Wilkins


Materials and methods:

Our methods were implemented around the two stated goals of:
1) increasing awareness and education
2) developing successful partnerships

Awareness and Education Methods and Approach:
· Direct mail marketing campaign geared to food service directors, farmers and distributors. We generated a mailing list of just over 200 people in this target audience using internet resources and Cornell Cooperative Extension resources. To this list we mailed invitations to our “Breakfast with Farmers” event.
· We designed a beautiful Farm-to-Cafeteria logo and developed a website that promotes local farms and what they have to offer, by season, to institutional buyers.
· We hosted a “Breakfast with Farmers” event where 40 attendees savored a delicious meal made with foods donated by 10 local farms and prepared by a local caterer.
· Presentations and handouts at the event included:
· Welcome/Intro by Pat Pavelsky, CCE of Ontario County Executive Director
· Overview of Canandaigua Lake Foodshed: Farm to Cafeteria Program by Deborah Denome, Seeking Common Ground Executive Director
· Farm to Cafeteria from the Food Service Perspective by Todd Fowler, Bloomfield School District Food Service Director and NYS School Nutrition Association Legislative Chair
· Farm to Cafeteria from the Farmer’s Perspective by Laura Pedersen of Pedersen Farms
· Farm to Cafeteria from the Distributors Perspective by FoodLink
· Discussion of regional/state-wide Farm to Cafeteria Initiatives
· The benefits of Farm to Cafeteria in our region by Lloyd Kinnear, Canandaigua Town Supervisor
· Handouts included seasonal availability of products chart, websites for more information, sample recipes, “NY Food of the month” sheets, “Featuring…” New York food signs, farmer brochures/business cards
· At the end of the breakfast we surveyed each participant about their interest in continuing to explore Farm to Cafeteria connections in exchange for a goody bag with a local apple, cheese and maple syrup.

Development of Collaborative Partnerships:
· Analysis/Assessment: During July and August 2006 we utilized the Cornell “Farm to Cafeteria Assessment Toolkit” in one-on-one interviews with 6 local cafeterias and 10 farms. We assessed willingness and ability to move forward and identified our 4 institutions: Bloomfield Central School, Thompson Health (hospital), Geneva Central School and Victor Central School.
· We worked individually with these 4 institutions to determine opportunities for using local foods and connected them with local farmers who were able to deliver to their location and, in one instance, delivery occurred through an existing purveyor. We provided signage to each institution to highlight their use of local products.
· Each institution sent monthly reports of what new products they purchased locally between September 2006 and June 2007.
· We have summarized what we have learned to date in a fact sheet that is available to all original “Breakfast with Farmers” participants and it will also be distributed to other interested communities.

Research results and discussion:

· Excellent feedback from farmers and institutions supporting the concept and need for program. This has probably been the most fulfilling part of the project (although the most difficult to quantify). Everyone that we speak with about the project voices support and for what is being done.

· Local, Regional and Statewide interested in the project and its outcomes, as evidenced by local media coverage and our presence and discussions at the ad hoc statewide Farm to Cafeteria meeting in Rochester in the fall of 2006.

· New markets and contacts developed between local farmers and institutions, including strong testimonial support from participants. A sampling here…

Phil Munson/Gale-Wyn Farm, Canandaigua, NY

“It was great to have new markets developed and ready for me. I worked mostly with Victor Schools, which was real convenient because I delivered on my way to the Victor Farmer’s Market. They were very easy to get along with and placed their orders on time. Over two months the program provided almost $700 in sales that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. The only challenge was that I had worked with Thompson Health to start delivering and then the day of the order they said I had to get a vendor # and I just didn’t have time to follow up on that at that time. It was a little disappointing for both of us, I think.”
Len Barron/Barron’s Pratt Barn Vineyard, Canandaigua, NY

“Farm-to-Cafeteria has been a very good experience for our vineyard. Great people - organizers and buyers. Flexible delivery schedules. Appreciative customers. Students at one school crowded around me on my way in one day, wanting a pre-taste of some of the week’s 7 varieties of seedless grapes that I was delivering. It’s great to get that immediate feedback on your product!”

Janet Elman/Victor Central School District, Victor, NY

“I just love doing this!! I love talking to the farmers and seeing what they have and meeting them for deliveries. The quality of product is excellent. Ordering and delivery couldn’t be easier. The students love it. My only complaint is that we don’t have a longer growing season. We don’t want it to slow down for the winter!"

Brian Nicholson/Red Jacket Orchards, Geneva, NY

“I'd like to commend you on the tremendous effort and accomplishments this past season. I believe you are having a very positive impact on the further connection of local farms to the schools systems. One of the most challenging aspects of selling into the foodservice industry is working against "the spec". This usually means that buyers are tied to what they have to buy.

Your effort in raising awareness and more importantly empowering the buyers to choose local is exactly what is needed to make positive changes. Our children deserve access to the products that grow in their community by those who support the local economy and care about its well being. This symbiotic relationship is so very important for growing the vitality of our agriculture, our communities and our children's health. “

· Contact from interested institutions from outside the grant scope wanting to participate. In fact, as word spread about the program locally, we received inquiries from farmers and institutions inside and outside our contact area about the program and potential to participate.

· Still significant potential to increase the local scope to include additional institutions and farmers based on feedback from local institutions and farmers that did not connect through the program this past year. For example, Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua desired to initiate a local, “mini” farmer’s market at the hospital and to use local produce in their cafeteria but the connections were not fully established in 2006. We also know of one substantial vegetable grower and 2 smaller growers, as well as 2 more Ontario County schools, the Office of the Aging, and Ontario County ARC, who would all like to participate in 2007.

· Strong local support and feedback from families with school-aged children.

Participation Summary

Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

We have successfully used the press to educate and promote our efforts throughout the project. We regularly receive calls of interest from news articles. We are currently working to populate our new webpage ( ) with local farms and products that are available by season to institutional buyers. We will make the summary of our efforts available for the Cornell Farm-to-School website. Since our webpage is brand new, and not fully populated, we are not yet able to assess its effectiveness.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

· Completed “3” organizational set-up meetings at Cornell Cooperative Extension prior to the Breakfast with Farmers event
a. All identified grant cooperators participated representing Cornell University, Seeking Common Ground, Rosecrest Farm, Happy Goat Farm, and Bloomfield Central School District.

Initial contact and discussion with farmers/institutions

· MAY: Completion of logo and invitation and mailing list
a. 200+ invitations were mailed to local farmers and food service directors, as well as 6 distributors.

· JUNE: Donation of food and services for Farm to Cafeteria grant sponsored breakfast
a. South Bristol Cultural Center-facility for the event
b. Fiddlehead concepts-reduced catering rate for the event
c. Food donations from 10 farms/orgs including: Happy Goat Farm, McCadam Cheese, Organic Home Delivery, Randall Standish Vineyards, Red Jacket Orchards, Rosecrest Farm, Shimmering Light Farm, Side Hill Acres, Sugarbush Hollow, Bloomfield Central School.
d. Tailored Events – discounted servingware/tableware for the event
e. $200 anonymous cash donation

· JUNE: Successful breakfast attendance and response to the grants interest survey
a. 9 institutional cafeterias, represented by 12 people
b. 14 local farms, represented by 21 people
c. 1 distributor (FoodLink)
d. 34 attendees + 6 organizers = 40 total participants
e. Presentation by Town of Canandaigua Supervisor, local farmers, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and grant recipient from Seeking Common Ground
f. 24 participants returned interest surveys that were handed out at the breakfast

· JULY and AUGUST: Successful interviews with farmers and institutions. These interviews were conducted using the Cornell “Farm-to-Cafeteria Assessment Toolkit”.
a. 6 institutional cafeterias were visited and assessed
b. 10 local farmers were visited and assessed
c. All assessment participants expressed interest in moving forward with the program. We summarized: Products that farmers had available, delivery options, and areas served and passed this on to the institutional buyers. We also summarized the buyer contact information and passed that along to the farmers.

· SEPTEMBER 2006 through JUNE 2007: Successful establishment of farmer and institution connections.
a. We know that at least 6 institutions have established new farm connections and we have received detailed reports from 4 institutions (Thompson Hospital, Victor Central School, Bloomfield Central School, Geneva Central School).
b. We know that at least 8 farms have established new institutional connections and we have received detailed reports from 3 (Pedersen Farms, Barron’s Pratt Barn Vineyard, Gale-Wyn Farms).
c. Summary of NEW local farms sales. Due to our grant period, and local school schedules, the vast majority of the purchases are from fall 2006. Spring sales were slow as most crops were just coming in as the grant period came to an end.
1) Gale-Wyn Farms - $670 (all new)
2) Barron’s Pratt Barn Vineyard – $482.25 (all new)
3) Pedersen Farms – $591.14 (plus another $124.01 in pre-existing sales)
4) Victor Apple Farm - $3,404.00 (all new)
5) White’s Farm - $433.30 (all new)
6) Local Foods via Giambrone distributor - $101.37 (all new)
7) Red Jacket Orchards - $970.01 (all new)
8) Wager Orchards - $2,712.00 (all new)
9) Happy Goat Farm - $ 50 (all new)
10) Local foods via Schlenker Distributors - $331 (plus another $531.45 in pre-existing sales)
TOTAL NEW SALES: $ 9745.07 reported in new sales for September 2006 through June 2007 based on connections made through the Canandaigua Lake Foodshed: Farm to Cafeteria program.

d. Summary of new usage of local foods in the 4 reporting institutional cafeterias:

1) Victor Central School - $4,546.75 - all new – no known usage of local foods in 2005.
2) Bloomfield Central School - $1,675.5 new purchases for Sep 2006 – June 2007. School reports an increased use of approximately 40% over previous year.
3) Thompson Health - $491.68 – all new – no known usage of local foods in 2005.
4) Geneva Central School - $3,251.15 new purchases in Sep-Nov 2006. School reports an increased use of approximately 8% over previous year.

· Celebration of Farm to institution at local schools
a. Naples Central School District-“Day with a Farmer” Celebration
b. Canandaigua Central School District – “Farmer’s Market for Kids!”
c. St. Mary’s School, Canandaigua, NY- Farm-to-School Lunch – Monthly Celebrations (St. Mary’s is not listed above as they did not increase their usage of local foods, they are continuing with their established program.)

· Successful initial outreach and presentations on the grant project
a. NOFA – NY Conference (2006 – overview of plan/grant proposal)
b. Ontario County Board of Supervisors – Canandaigua, NY
c. New York State Nutrition Association: Finger Lakes Chapter – Manchester, NY
d. New York State Farm-to-School meeting – Rochester, NY
e. Church of the Good Shepherd – Rochester, NY
f. Cornell’s Farm-to-School Professional Development Initiative – Geneva, NY
g. Professional Eldercare Networking Meeting – Canandaigua, NY
h. Ontario County Purchasing has offered to negotiate/administer volume purchasing contracts with local farms for local schools and county cafeterias.

· Excellent local and area media coverage of the project
a. 2 article and 2 columns in the Canandaigua Daily Messenger
b. 2 articles each in the Naples Record, Honeoye Herald and Victor Herald
c. 1 article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
d. 1 article in New Health Digest (serving Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse areas)
e. 1 article in The Community Trader - Ontario County
f. 1 on-line article on NY Farms! E-list
g. 1 article in Cornell’s Vegedge newsletter

MAY/JUNE 2007:
· Final survey of participating farmers and food service directors showed great satisfaction with the products that are being procured as well as pricing and delivery. The greatest complaint is that more local food is not presently available directly from farmers or through distributors. We hope to continue to secure more funds to work on expanding the delivery options.

· In addition to the connections that we directly linked, two participating institutions worked on their own to connect to more local foods. Also, 3 institutions that attended the “Breakfast with Farmers” event, that were not originally interested in procuring local foods, have now contacted us with interest. We are not aware of any new farm-to-cafeteria connections that sprouted between original “Breakfast with Farmers” attendees who did not officially become program participants.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Potential Contributions

This project planted the seeds that will grow and affect our community in many ways.

Improving Opportunity for Farmers:
Only one farmer in our project had previously sold to an institutional cafeteria. This is a brand new market for local farmers with the potential for immeasurable impact on local farms. One farmer already believes that he will be able to do away with selling to several far flung markets by this increase in local demand, thus saving significantly on distribution costs. Another farm has offered to start growing new products to meet local institutional demand. We presently have more demand for local products than local farmers are able to meet with present delivery systems. This also offers an opportunity to be addressed in the near future.

Linking Agriculture and Community Development:
As these new partnerships grow, the increase in public awareness of local foods and farms is growing along with them. Children in two schools are bringing home recipes and list of farmers and farm markets from school. Parents are becoming more engaged in supporting local farms. One parent who helped to organize a Farm to Cafeteria celebration at her child’s school has started a new local farmers market. Development pressure is high in our beautiful, region…ranked the 2006 #1 Place to Live by Progressive Farmer Magazine. The good news is that while there is a decrease in farmlands, there is an increase in the number of small, local farms. We believe the farm to cafeteria connections will support this trend as more children, parents and other cafeteria patrons become more familiar with local farms and foods and work in many ways, direct and indirect, to support local farms and protect farmlands.

Reducing Environmental Risks and Impacts:
The environmental impact of buying farm products locally is significant. Most of our local vegetable and fruit growers use farming methods that have minimal impact on the environment. We are also encouraging the participation of local organic farms. Of course the environmental benefit of reduced shipping, processing, storage and packaging is real. Sustaining farms locally will not only preserve farmland, it will reduce the environmental impact of using food from sources outside of the local region.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.