Building professional capacity to enhance farm-to-school marketing and distribution networks

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2005: $110,487.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Jennifer Wilkins
Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, networking, participatory research, workshop, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, marketing management
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban/rural integration, community services, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    This two-year project will build capacity among 60 county-based Cooperative Extension Educators, farmers, and food service directors in New York State to develop the farm-to-school market chain. Extension educators with responsibilities in agriculture, nutrition, and economic/community development will be trained, through workshops and educational tours of school food service operations, in the nuts and bolts of food service in New York State K-12 public schools, colleges, and universities. A Farm-to-School Assessment Toolkit will be developed to determine the best first steps for schools and farmers to assure success in building farm-to-school connections. The Extension educators will then make farm-to-school connections a reality through: 1) Tracking number of local purchases made by school; 2) Measuring change in sales for farmers; and 3) Using educational resources developed and made available to teachers in coordination with cafeteria offerings of local foods. This project will be designed and implemented by a team of entities that together comprise the expertise, networks, and resources necessary to connect extension educators, farmers and food service directors. By concentrating on the coordination of the critical stakeholder groups in one state, project partners believe that greater integration of local foods into school food service is possible and these links will be more sustainable. The resulting approach will serve as a model for other states in the Northeast. The forging of farm-to-links is an area of work that encapsulates the core mission of the land grant u8niversity and its engagement in community needs and interests. The emergence of these new marketing channels promises multiple benefits such as healthier children, stronger markets for small and mid-size farms, and vibrant local economies.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Of the 60 Cooperative Extension Educators (primary beneficiaries), 35 will conduct one to three farm-to-school assessments yielding recommendations to food service directors. Twenty of these educators will continue to work with school food service directors to implement the recommendations and evaluate changes in local food purchases. Of the 17 k-12 and college food service directors (secondary beneficiaries) who participate in the training programs, 12 will demonstrate increased knowledge and skills to initiate local purchasing and will increase purchases of locally produced foods.

    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.