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first_img“Just because we’re buying a whole bunch more local food, the schools have the ability to actually prepare it and get all of those new recipes,” said Summerlee. This helps the local economy, as well as our kids, for years to come. “They’re able to eat fresh produce or products that were processed or picked, possibly hours or just a day or two before they eat it. And it’s just full of flavor or nutrients they might not get at home,” said Broome-Tioga BOCES Registered Dietitian Julie Raway. “How far it travels, how it affects the local economy, jobs it takes to produce that food, and just making sure they can have the ability and the knowledge to make healthy choices in the cafeteria,” said Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director Beth Roberts. “If we establish healthy choices as young children, then hopefully that will carry on through their entire lifespan,” said Roberts. The Rural Health Network of South Central New York was awarded a $100,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA. For a list of all of the federal grant winners, click here. The money also adds training for food service staff. In collaboration with Broome-Tioga BOCES and the Cornell Cooperative Extension, the grant will increase students’ access to locally-grown food. Schools aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits of the grant and the farm-to-school program. “It not only supports students eating local, fresh food, but also supports the community and farmers which are really important to us because they grow the food that we eat,” said Raway. Students will also get the opportunity to learn more about what their eating, with the grant helping to provide education in the classroom. “It will allow us to keep that momentum going of all of the great work that has been done, working with local farms, getting more local farms into the schools, but also add on some new elements,” said Rural Health Network Director of Food and Health Erin Summerlee. Since the format for school this fall is still unknown, the Rural Health Network says it will be able to shift its budget as needed. (WBNG) — The Southern Tier has a history of its farm-to-school programs, and now they are set to expand.last_img read more