Jamestown Public Schools recently received the prestigious “Farm to School Partnership Award” from the New York School Nutrition Association (NYSNA) and the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets. JPS Food Services Director, Walter Gaczewski, accepted the award at NYSNA’s Legislative Action Conference in Albany.
This award recognizes school districts that networked within the local community to develop successful and sustainable Farm to School programs. Jamestown Public Schools’ key partners are: the Chautauqua County Health Networks’ “Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play Project,” which provided funding to purchase processing equipment and technical assistance, and a coalition called the Chautauqua Health Action Team, consisting of various community organizations including Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Chautauqua County Health Department. JPS was provided contacts with local farmers, and received promotional and resource materials as a part of a countywide Farm to School initiative funded by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.
“Walter Gaczewski, his staff and JPS faculty and staff involved in the school gardens are amazing partners who share a focus and passion for working together to bring fresh local food into their school meals whether from local farms or the school gardens. It has been a joy and privilege working with them and I’m looking forward to the continued growth of Farm to School at JPS,” said Janet Forbes who was the Project Coordinator of Chautauqua County Health Network at the time of the Farm to School Partnership Award.
“Our goal at JPS is within three years to purchase 30 percent of produce needed directly from Chautauqua County farms,” said Mr. Gaczewski. “Currently, JPS purchases less than five percent from local sources, however, most school districts do not purchase any produce directly from farmers. To increase amounts purchased locally, we must process and freeze during summer break for later use because of the short grow season and, by the time school starts back in September, we are coming close to the end of the harvest season. This will also help to keep more money in our local economy.”