[MUSIC PLAYING] DAVID WALCZAK: This is actually bulk kale for the Buffalo schools program. It's going to them tomorrow.
CHERYL THAYER: One of the primary tenets of both Farm to School and Cornell Cooperative Extension is to grow the New York State agricultural industry. And Farm to School programs, by using their massive purchasing power, really help us achieve that.
DAVID WALCZAK: Cornell's worked hand in hand with us. They've helped us get the Farm to School program going, helped us get established with the Buffalo schools. They've helped other school systems to find out about us, and just helping to connect the dots.
BRIDGET O'BRIEN-WOOD: Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell University have been providing coordination with local farmers and suppliers to help us bridge those gaps that we were experiencing before the Farm to School program. We have had so much success only because we've had partnerships that have really embraced the full concept of Farm to School.
DAVID WALCZAK: Eden Valley Growers was founded back in the 1950s. We've been around for 60-plus years now. And we're a group of growers working together cooperatively, serving good homegrown produce to Western New York and the New York state area, and also down the East Coast.
CHERYL THAYER: Working with Eden Valley Growers has reduced the cost of produce coming into the district, because they are selling local items that are grown 30 miles away, that aren't being trucked across the country. They're just such an important player in the local ag sector, really aggregating a lot of local products from local farms. And that to us, working in farm to institution, is really what we need to be able to move the needle.
DAVID WALCZAK: It's generating more business overall for all the growers. And it's bringing New York state product into the schools in the Western New York area.
It's rewarding, you know? It's cool that they're eating-- that's dad's corn. It's not my corn, but that's the way they think of it.
CHERYL THAYER: For local farmers, we're supporting them, again, by using those institutional dollars. For schools, we're helping them get healthy, local food into their school building.
Eden Valley Growers grow 45 specialty crops. And they're basically in Buffalo's backyard. So the fact that they're working together intentionally now is a win across the board.
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Cornell Cooperative Extension has become a driving force behind a surge in New York’s Farm to School initiatives. The programs stock school cafeterias with fresh, local foods and offer farmers an expanded market for their goods.