Youth nutrition emphasized at Middletown school

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Sen. Metzger (2nd from left) serving local produce to young students

MIDDLETOWN – The importance of farm-to-school programs for financial and physical health was stressed by officials on Friday while at Presidential Park Elementary School in the Enlarged Middletown City School District.

“In my perfect world we would be serving 100 percent New York grown, harvested and raised food right here in our school system.” State Senator Jennifer Metzger said.

She said it is extremely important to support area farms, which are largely family-owned, and to support healthy development of children.

“The economy basically privileges the giant farms and the industrial farms so the extent that we can support our New York farms right here in New York  through our farm-to-institution programs like farms-to-schools, we are supporting our New York farmers and we are sustaining them and making sure we have long term food security here in New York.”

Metzger was joined by a group that included Middletown Board of Ed President Pastor John Williams and New York Juice Company CEO Michael Puntillo.

The day was part of a larger statewide Farm-to School initiative in which 3,500 elementary school students were served New York grown grape juice with breakfast.

“New York State is the number-two producer in the nation in Concord Grapes; over 18,000 acres of Concord grapes are grown in New York State,” said State Department of Agriculture and Markets Deputy Commissioner David Valesky. “Grown and Certified combining with our farm-to-school program and the governor’s “no student goes hungry” initiative all comes together and we are able to provide New York products here in Middletown and in school districts across the state and it’s a win-win for all.”

“One of the important milestones here is the fact that we are highlighting Andrew Cuomo’s program as very important,” Puntillo said. “The Grown and Certified seal is something that we hold at the highest standard. We make sure all of our farmers are to that standard as well.”