Farm to School Program Features Dairy in School Meals

SYRACUSE, N.Y.  New York dairy farmers Kelly Reynolds from Reyncrest Farm in Corfu, and Rob DiCarlo from Fa-Ba Farm in Canandaigua, along with New York Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball joined American Dairy Association North East’s Farm to Table Summit to talk with school nutrition professionals from nearly 50 school districts about dairy in farm to school programs and school meals.

Objectives of the summit were to provide the professionals with resources to support existing farm to school programs to include dairy education, focusing on dairy’s local availability 365 days a year and the essential nutrient package it provides to school meals. They were also provided tools and techniques to promote and successfully market their school nutrition programs to students, specifically Gen Z.

Participants were encouraged to submit a plan to make a commitment to include more dairy in school menus and to promote dairy as a component in their farm to school efforts.

“Building relationships with school nutrition experts helps secure and protect dairy’s place in school meals which gives students the nutritional boost to succeed,” said ADA North East CEO John Chrisman. “Everyone wins when dairy is readily accessible for school-aged children for breakfast and lunch.”

Farm to school programs are rising in popularity across the country, and encourage students to fill their breakfast and lunch trays with locally-sourced foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, fruits and vegetables. Many programs also include classroom curriculums that help students learn more about where their food comes from. Lessons can include taste tests, virtual farm tours, field trips to farms, and farmers visiting schools.

“More and more, consumers want to know where their food comes from, and our dairy educational programs fit perfectly with those consumer demands,” said Chrisman. “This goes a long way in building trust in dairy – and developing life-long dairy consumers.”

Reynolds and DiCarlo served on a panel to help make the dairy farmer connection and to showcase ADA North East’s dairy education programs, specifically our Virtual Farm Tour program that has drawn more than 550,000 viewers since 2018.

Reynolds, who previously hosted one of our Virtual Farm Tours, recognized the importance of dairy farmers being involved in this farm to school summit, saying, “It’s really good to connect to those who are serving our products to students across New York.”

DiCarlo agreed, adding, “It’s important that they hear from the people who are producing the food and they can ask us real questions and get real answers about dairy.” 

Reynolds conducted several media interviews after the summit. Watch this WHAM news clip featuring Reynolds. 

The summit also included a culinary demonstration of dairy-centric recipes coupled with fresh and local produce for flavorful, all-inclusive meal options that can be served in schools.

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Photo caption: Kelly Reynolds of Reyncrest Farm in Corfu, N.Y., (left) and Rob DiCarlo of Fa-Ba Farm in Canandaigua, N.Y., (right) participated in a panel discussion led by American Dairy Association North East’s Emma Swarthout (center) at a Farm to School Summit hosted by dairy checkoff to secure dairy’s place in farm to school programs and in school meals.

About American Dairy Association North East

American Dairy Association North East (ADA North East) is the dairy farmer-funded organization funded by participating dairy farmer’s checkoff investment to build demand and sales for milk and dairy foods throughout the local region. Representing nearly 9,000 dairy farm families in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and northern Virginia, ADA North East develops and implements local programs to drive milk and dairy sales at retail outlets and in schools. The organization also conducts consumer education about dairy through events, traditional and social media, and in collaboration with health professionals through National Dairy Council®. ADA North East works closely with Dairy Management Inc.™, the national dairy checkoff organization, to support nutrition research, national partnerships and developing export markets for dairy to bring a fully integrated promotion program to the region. For more information, visit, or call 315.472.9143.