Expanding Farm to Cafeteria Connections with Harvest Preparation and Preservation Training

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2010: $12,950.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Deborah Denome
Seeking Common Ground

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: melons, apples, berries (other), berries (blueberries), grapes, peaches, pears, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes


  • Education and Training: demonstration, networking, workshop, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    While more local cafeterias are utilizing increasing amounts of locally grown foods, the majority of local foods still go unused due to the perception that they are difficult and/or time consuming to utilize. This project will offer 3 hands-on training sessions for food service personnel to meet local farmers, learn about their products and learn skills to efficiently prepare these products for cafeteria use. It will also explore simple food preservation practices to extend the use of seasonal foods. The project will conclude with a celebration to highlight the successful use of new foods in cafeterias, and will serve to inform local farmers about what products are in greatest demand for the following season.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The project methods will consist of three elements.

    1. Introduce the Farmers and Food Service managers and staff using TWO hands-on training workshops at the New York Wine and Culinary Center (NYWCC).

    The workshops will use local farm products and will include knife skills, recipe selection and technical skills, actual preparation and final serving. We will emphasize local products that are less common in cafeterias as well as new ways to prepare more common farm offerings. The training will use the premier culinary teaching facilities of the NYWCC where groups of 3 or 4 students each share a cooking station equipped with professional Viking ranges, double-walled ovens, and video monitors to see/hear instructors clearly. Workshop goals include:

    • Educating about local farms/products and seasons of availability.
    • Sharing appropriate recipes for cafeteria service using seasonal products from local farms. Workshops will be early Summer 2010 and Spring 2011.
    • Participants will be receive Continuing Professional Education Credits for Dieticians through the American Dietetic Association, and Continuing Education Credits for Foodservice Workers
    • Training will be provided by local professional chefs, industry professionals, and experienced, local Food Service Managers

    2. Exploratory local produce preservation using dehydration and freezing in ONE training workshop for cafeteria managers

    Freezing and dehydration are easy, safe methods of capturing the bounty of local farms to extend their availability during the off-season times of year. These preservation methods are simply an extension of the preparation and cooking techniques that will be presented in the above training sessions. One workshop will be held at the Bloomfield Central School kitchen in the Fall of 2010 where we will explore a) interest of local cafeterias in preservation, b) local products that lend themselves to preservation c) costs, time of preparation, produce availability, and methods of preservation d) quality and end product use in cafeterias e) Preparation and preservation of local produce. We envision this portion of the project as an initial trial for future efforts in expanding the purchase and use of local foods though small scale, in-kitchen preservation of selected farm products.

    3. A final Farmer-Food Service event that captures the progress and successes made by the training and connections

    This event is a key element of this effort. Training and education are important as a means of increasing use of local farm products in cafeterias. This event will capture the progress and success of the training and food preservation effort via program evaluations and dialogue. We will summarize the seasonal training programs, quantify successes in preparation and use of local farm products, report on the overall status of the local farm to cafeteria effort, and enjoy samples of more locally prepared products. Farmers will also leave knowing what products are most valued/utilized by local cafeterias. Invitations will be sent to all farmers and food service managers in our Finger Lakes Foodshed whether they participated in the training sessions or not.

    We will have several metrics including

    • Number of food service managers, dieticians, and kitchen staff trained in the three training sessions
    o We expect 20 per session or a total of 60 people trained.
    • Number of cafeteria-farmer connections and produce purchased based on
    o Participation of farmers in the workshop training sessions
    o Provision of produce and information about their farm
    o New connections made as a result of the workshops
    o Amount of produce purchased as a result of the new connections or existing connections
    • New and existing food service managers and cafeteria connections made
    o We have a running tally of participating cafeterias and this will be updated to identify new participants and participation of existing cafeterias
    • Number and affiliations of participants in the final event and whether these are existing or new farmers or cafeterias.
    • Number of farmers and cafeterias participating in the final event.

    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.