Fresh Bites Spring Edition 2022

COMMITTEES Farm to School

COMMITTEES Farm to School

Farm to School Feature

Farm to School Feature

BY CHERYL BILINSKI CCE HARVEST NY Celebrating Cultural Diversity with Buffalo Farm to School


Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) recently launched a new initiative of their long-standing Farm to School (F2S) program, Celebrating Cultural Diversity with Buffalo Farm to School . The Initiative seeks to celebrate one of the district’s greatest assets – it’s diversity. The primary goals of the project are to meet the dietary needs of the diverse student body by serving more culturally appropriate menu options, and to support NY’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) farmers by providing stable marketplace for their farm products. Launching as a pilot in a small handful of the district’s 65+ buildings, activities included in this Initiative are: · Identifying the cultures around which programming will be focused

Dino’s Sausage & Meat Co., Inc. is a meat production and packaging company located in Utica NY that provided a tour of their facility to the Oneida-Madison-Herkimer BOCES Food Service department at the beginning of February. The visit consisted of a tour of the facility and an overview of their meatball, sausage link and patty production. Dino’s has been a crucial Farm to School Partner for OHM BOCES providing the program with a New York State pork and beef meatball at least once monthly for the past several years. Dino’s purchases the pork and beef from Lucki7 Farm and runs a specific production of NYS meatballs just for OHM BOCES component districts.

These 20 pound spice bags are prepared daily and utilized in Dino’s sausage link and patty mixtures. The spices are added into the ground meats before forming and packaging begins. The bag consists of a secret blend of spices that’s been passed down for generations.

· Working with BIPOC farm partners on logistics associated with selling to BPS. This included awarding additional “points” to BIPOC producers in BPS’s geographic preference produce bid. · Developing culturally relevant recipes and incorporating items produced by new farm partners · Designing educational programming for district students delivered through the lens of food, culture, and agriculture · Training adult leaders from within the BPS community on positive youth development around cultural relevancy and local food systems · Training BPS culinary students on newly developed recipes, which will be served from the BPS Farm to School to You food truck · Providing on-farm technical assistance to new farm partners

PFC Chef, Sharif Abdi, works with BPS Food Service staff to prepare bell peppers for use in the githeri.

Behind the meatball assembly line, another worker packages the frozen meatball to be sent out to restaurants and grocery stores in the Central New York area. Dino’s Sausage & Meat Co. produces and distributes meat items for companies from Syracuse to Albany and into New York City.

Bridget O’Brien Wood

(left) and Mahamud Mberwa (right) roll out chapati dough for Sharif to pan fry.

PFC Chef, Sharif Abdi (left) works with BPS Food Service Director, Bridget O’Brien-Wood (middle) and CCE Harvest NY Specialist, Cheryl Bilinski (right) on standardizing the githeri recipe.

Project partners include three Cornell Cooperative Extension offices: Harvest New York , Erie County , and the Cornell Vegetable Program , Food for the Spirit , Urban Fruits & Veggies , Buffalo Food Equity Network , D’Youville College , and the Buffalo School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management . Our primary farm partner, Providence Farm Collective (PFC), is a consortium of New American incubator farms 20miles south of Buffalo. Many of the farmers’ children attend BPS and have yet to enjoy a recipe native to their culture – a reality this Initiative aims to correct. To launch the Initiative with our six pilot schools, PFC Chef, Sharif Abdi and Mahamud Mberwa, Somali Bantu farmer, trained BPS food service staff and Buffalo F2S project team members how to prepare githeri, kachumbari, and chapati, dishes native to their homeland. The githeri was prepared with African maize that grew in PFC’s soils from seeds brought over from Tanzania. The kernel is larger than sweet corn, chewy, nutty and quite delicious! The recipes were then served to the six pilot schools, which included administrators, faculty, and students. When asked if anyone had tried this food before, one young student noted “I know this menu because my mom makes githeri at home and I’m used to it. It’s a surprise to know my school lunch is now featuring our own language and culture within the school”. This Initiative is made possible through the support of a USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant and the commitment of the BPS Food Service Department and our Farm to School community partners.

Safety First! Before the tour began, lab coats and hairnets weregiventokeeptheproducts safe fromanycontamination. The Oneida-Madison-Herkimer BOCES Food Service team consists of Hayley Mielnicki the Registered Dietitian (on the left), Kate Dorr the School Nutrition Food Service Director (on the right), Jake Perrin Assistant Director (on the right), and Margarita Morgun the Utica College Dietetic Intern (on the far left). The first assembly line

produces their meatballs and is one of the local items that are served in all the Oneida- Herkimer-Madison BOCES affiliated school districts! There are also many other meat products that Dino’s has available and there’s a possibility that Oneida- Herkimer-Madison BOCES Food Service department might include these on their menus in the future!

Celebrating Cultural Diversity with Buffalo Farm to School project team members gather for a kick-off meeting at Providence Farm Collective. Photo Credit: Rebekah Williams.

Mahamud Mberwa, Somali Bantu farmer, prepares kachumbari for the six pilot schools.







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