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In 2012, a group of community stakeholders began meeting to discuss the formation of a farm to school program in the Tri-Lakes Region of the Adirondacks. Spearheaded by Ruth Pino, Food Service Director for the Saranac Lake school district, the group included teachers and staff from the Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, and Lake Placid school districts. They were joined by parents and representatives from Healthy Heart Network, The Wild Center, The Adirondack North Country Association, and Paul Smith’s College.
In 2013, the Adirondack Farm to School Initiative succeeded in its initial goal, which was to secure commitments from local school boards to make 15% of all produced purchased local by 2015.
In 2014, the Initiative applied for and received a USDA Farm to School Planning Grant. The grant totaled $45,000 and allowed the group to move forward with the purchase of special equipment, as well as funding staff trainings and curricular projects.
"We believe that through growing, harvesting, and preparing nutritious foods, children gain confidence, develop critical thinking skills, feel a sense of power over their own health, and can impact family purchasing, cooking, and eating patterns. "
In 2016, the Adirondack Farm to School Initiative continued to increase student exposure to locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables through the continued development of curricula, school gardens, procurement agreements with local farms, and menu changes in the cafeteria. The group was awarded a New York State Farm to School grant from the Department of Agriculture that will provide assistance to additional school districts by funding a part-time farm to school coordinator.
In 2017, the Adirondack Farm to School Initiative is continuing to grow programs in the Tri-Lakes while also supporting new and existing Farm to School programs throughout the Adirondacks.