Growing the Farm to Institution Movement: From Farm to Plate, 9/28

The Teaching Kitchen

Wednesday September 28

12:30m – 2:30pm

NYS Health Foundation
1385 Broadway, 23rd floor

Lunch will be served

Register here by 9/26

This event will be livestreamed online

[UPDATE: You can now watch a recording of this briefing online]

As small and mid-size farms across the country continue to face pressure and are being lost at astounding rates, new local economic outlets are being sought to keep these farms in business.  For some, farmers’ markets and CSAs have provided a much needed retail customer base.  However, institutions–such as hospitals, universities, government agencies, and other meal providers–represent an even larger opportunity to purchase farm products and thus increase the amount of local food consumed in a region.

New York is one of the nation’s top food-producing states with 36,000 farms and over 7 million acres of farmland. Yet roughly 4,500 farms have been lost to real estate development since the early 1980s, leading farmers to seek greater economic opportunities to sustain their businesses.  At the same time, New York City funds 230 million institutional meals each year through multiple City agencies.  Excluding the Department of Education and the Department of Corrections, which together serve approximately 188 million meals annually, about 40 million City-funded meals are served each year by nonprofit organizations, including early childhood centers, senior centers, homeless shelters and home-delivered meal providers.

This briefing will bring together leaders working to significantly expand the volume of fruits, vegetables and other foods grown by local farmers that are served in schools, senior centers, daycare programs and other community institutions.  We will highlight the importance of institutional feeding programs to local economies and public health, highlight barriers to increasing the volume of local food served in institutions, and identify opportunities to scale up this important movement for the benefit all New Yorkers.

As Executive Chef at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, Lynn Loflin created a model farm-to-institution program serving 400,000 meals a year to low-income New Yorkers through senior centers, a homeless shelter, a Head Start program and an After School program and Summer Camp.  She is now working to scale Lenox Hill Neighborhood House’s new training and technical assistance initiative, The Teaching Kitchen at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, to help hundreds of other nonprofits overcome the many real and perceived barriers to serving more fresh and local food at an economical cost.   David Haight, New York State Director of American Farmland Trust, has helped launch Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS) to strengthen the economic security of farmers, and the health of New Yorkers, by empowering institutions to increase their purchasing of food grown in New York.  He will share results from an intensive evaluation of barriers to the farm to institution movement in New York that incorporated findings from 25 stakeholder interviews, nearly 300 online survey responses, and a landscape analysis of farm to institution coalitions in 5 states.

Funders are encouraged to bring grantees with feeding programs to learn alongside us.

Co-sponsored by NYS Health Foundation, CFF, and Philanthropy New York

More about the presenting organizations

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House:  Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, widely recognized as one of New York’s premier nonprofit organizations, is a 122-year-old settlement house that provides an extensive array of effective and integrated human services—social, educational, legal, health, housing, mental health, nutritional and fitness—which significantly improve the lives of thousands of people in need each year, ages 3 to 103, on the East Side of Manhattan. Lenox Hill now serves more than 95% fresh produce (40-50% of it locally-sourced, depending on the season), locally-grown and milled whole grains and sustainably harvested fish and herbs grown on their Green Roof and Garden. The Teaching Kitchen at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House is a nuts-and-bolts food business course designed to share our model and best practices with a wide-range of peer organizations.  Led by Teaching Kitchen Chef Lynn Loflin, the tailored curriculum and year-long technical assistance help participants transform their food programs to serve significantly more fresh, healthy and local food – without raising costs. The Teaching Kitchen is the only program of its kind and has already trained organizations serving more than 1.5 million meals annually.  Lenox Hill is working now to scale the program to train 500 nonprofit organizations over the next five years.  The ultimate goal of the program is to localize publicly-funded institutional food systems, more broadly improving the health of low-income New Yorkers and strengthening the regions’ farms, economy and sustainability.

American Farmland Trust: More than 35 years ago, a group of people committed to farming and conservation from across the United States came together to establish American Farmland Trust (AFT) – the first and only national organization dedicated to saving America’s farmland.  AFT’s mission is to protect farmland, promote sound farming practices and keep farmers on the land. AFT has united farmers and environmentalists in developing practical solutions to save farmland and protect the environment.  We work from the ‘kitchen table to the Congress’ – tailoring solutions that are effective for farmers and communities and can be magnified to have greater impact.  Since our founding, AFT has helped protect over 5 million acres of farmland and led the way for adopting conservation practices on millions more. AFT’s national office is located in Washington DC with a network of field offices across America where farmland is under threat.  AFT established its New York Field Office in 1990 as the state was home to three of the most threatened farming regions in America. That office helped launch and now coordinates Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS), a statewide partnership of agricultural, public health and economic development organizations who have come together to strengthen New York’s farm and food economy and improve the health of its citizens.


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