Farm to School Cropped

The Rondout Valley is one of the most fertile and productive agricultural centers in the world – yet many of our families with young children will never eat farm-fresh produce, shop at a farmer’s market, or visit a working farm. Many factors limit access to locally-grown food, including a food system that promotes commodity foods grown in faraway places.

We are located at the intersection of two mountain ranges, with the Appalachian foothills in the south and the Catskills located in the northernmost section. Much of our region is designated a Health Professional Shortage Area and Medically Underserved.

The RVGA partners with Ellenville Rural Health Network, Ellenville School District, ARC of Ulster-Greene, Cornell Cooperative of Ulster County, and community volunteers to bring “Just-a-Bite” to Ellenville’s school children.

The 2021/2022 program goals are:

  1. Expand Just-a-Bite: The Just-a-Bite program purchases local produce from Rondout Valley farmers, processes it into bite-sized portions, and delivers it to school children. Education is a vital component of healthy eating, so the produce is accompanied by information about the local farm, how the produce was grown, cooking instructions, and the health benefits of eating fresh foods.

  2. Bridge the financial gap for school cafeterias so they can purchase locally-grown foods to serve in school meals.

  3. Fund trips for school children to visit working farms in the Rondout Valley.

  4. Launch a pilot program to supply FREE Rondout Valley-sourced fresh food boxes for families in CEP schools, with multilingual and multimedia cooking classes.

The RVGA is committed to bringing farm-fresh, culturally appropriate, seasonal food to schools in the Rondout Valley and beyond, with an emphasis on Community Eligible Program (CAP) Districts, where all students are eligible for 100% free lunch. The farm-fresh food is accompanied by custom-made, multilingual online and printed cooking instructions with produce descriptions, and the students are surveyed after distribution for effectiveness of the program.