College hosts Hudson Valley Farm to Institution Summit

Hudson Valley Farm to Institution ConfYesterday, more than 125 local practitioners working to bring regionally-produced food to schools, colleges, hospitals, food pantries and other venues, and educate their eaters about nutrition programs, cooking and gardening, gathered at SUNY New Paltz for the Hudson Valley Farm to Institution Summit.

Organized by the College’s Office of Campus Sustainability, and a steering committee of diverse institutions and agencies in the Hudson Valley along with Farm to Institution New York State, leaders and staff from various institutions, distributors, food service companies, non-profit organizations, and public agencies  discussed local sourcing of food for institutions, state and federal policy issues, funding strategies and best practices.

This Summit helped “connect schools, markets, hospitals and other institutions with our state’s world class agricultural producers, while providing an opportunity for New York agriculture to expand its range of business,” Richard Ball, New York State Agriculture and Markets commissioner, said in a press release.

Presenters at the conference included New Paltz’s own Michael Sheridan, assistant professor (Business), who presented research on the cost differential between local and national food distribution vendors, and Campus Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Mitten, who presented on criteria that defines the term “real food.” Mitten also co-facilitated a workshop identifying next steps that the Farm to Institution network can implement to increase local food procurement.

This Summit is just one of the sustainable food initiatives taking place this fall at the College. As part of the Farm to SUNY initiative, the campus celebrated National Kale Day on Wednesday, Oct. 1, by serving 10 dishes featuring local kale from Sorbello Farms at Hasbrouck Dining Hall and the Student Union. And next week, the Office of Campus Sustainability, Sodexo, and CAS are gearing up to celebrate the apple harvest with local apple variety tastings at the Student Union from noon- 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, and at the farmer’s market on Thursday, Oct.23. To celebrate Food Day on Friday, Oct. 24, the College is joining 10 other college campus across the state in the “New York Campus Crunch” event, where students, faculty, and staff gather to crunch into a local New York State-grown apple at the same time.