BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Alden Central Schools served up a "NY Thursday" menu of foods from local farmers. Students enjoyed a New York grown 100% beef hot dog, Welch's grade juice slushie, apples, potatoes and milk -- all from farms across Western New York.
Farm to school programs are becoming more popular and school districts in Erie Country are jumping on board to have the local foods available for their students.
Alden Central School District has pioneered "NY Thursdays" and will focus on serving New York grown foods for the rest of the school year. Hamburg Central School District also had a few "NY Thursdays". Amherst, Cheektowaga-Sloan, Depew, Lancaster, Niagara Wheatfield, and Wilson are also participating in the program.
Becky O'Connor the Erie County Farm to School Coordinator for the Cornell Cooperative Extension says Buffalo Public Schools participate in the Farm to School program but not the New York Thursdays just yet.
"It's really important to connect students make that agriculture connection and provide that education as part of it," O'Connor said.
Many schools already have some foods from local farmers and O'Connor says she hopes this program will help stream-line the process of buying and distributing fresh foods from the farm to the schools.
"Most schools are really willing to help support their local farmers and also meet that demand from their consumers," O'Connor said. "Parents are looking for local items on their menus."
As for the school lunch budget, New York State will give lunch reimbursements of $0.06 of every lunch right now, and that number will go up to $0.25 to school districts that offer more than 30% of food from New York farmers.
"It means a lot to the students knowing where their food is coming from," Anita Trautweim, Food Service Director for Alden Central Schools said. "And knowing that it is grown right here in New York-- it gives them a sense of pride."