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Working with local farms and producers to bring healthy food to Capital Region schools.
Capital Roots’ newest program, Farm-to-School, connects local farm-fresh products with Capital Region schools. Local food in school cafeterias benefits students, teachers, parents, farmers and school districts by connecting community, improving student diets, and building the local economy. Numerous studies have shown the link between good eating habits and school performance. And fresh flavorful local food just tastes better! So why is it more likely that in school tomorrow your child will eat an apple from Washington State instead of Washington County?
It turns out there are many reasons, having to do with price, purchasing rules, distribution, how school kitchens operate, as well as the mismatch between the school year and New York’s growing season. Building on 40+ years of experience in area schools and our many farm connections, Capital Roots launched Farm-to-School in 2017. With help from Rensselaer County, and now, with support from the USDA, we are expanding this work across our service area. By using the Urban Grow Center’s food hub and our online marketplace, the Virtual Veggie Mobile®, Capital Roots connects food service directors with dozens of local farms.
But Farm-to-School is more than delivering local food to local schools, it is also about breaking down the barriers that have made out of state food the norm, rather than the exception. Farm-to-School helps farms and schools navigate the regulations that keep them apart, develops systems and trainings that make local foods easier to prepare and more appealing to students, and helps farmers adapt to changing food safety laws that can limit their access to schools and other great local customers.