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State budget includes more money for Farm to School program

More money is included in the recently adopted state budget for a program designed to help farms and schools by getting more nutritious fresh foods to students’ lunch trays.

Reimbursements for schools purchasing 30 percent or more of their lunch food ingredients from locally grown or locally processed suppliers will increase from 6 cents a meal to 25 cents, part of a $10 million commitment promoting New York agriculture, according to Elizabeth Wolters, associate director of public policy with the New York Farm Bureau.

She said the idea is to encourage more schools to use more locally grown products.

The lunch reimbursement increase would begin Sept. 1. Wolters expects regulations on how the program will run to be developed jointly this summer by the state Education Department and the Department of Agriculture & Markets.

“We think it will provide more money for schools to be able to purchase from local operations and farmers, so we’ll get more local fresh foods on to students’ lunch plates,” she said.

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