Farm to School Conference and Workshops: Creating an Easier Path to Farm Fresh Foods

This Conference and its workshops are geared to those whose schools that have not yet begun a Farm to School Program or are in the early stages of its development, as well as farmers that are on the fence about the need for, and design of, their own Farm Food Safety Plans to allow making sales to institutions.

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Are you a school food service manager that’s heard about Farm to School but can’t find the time to delve into it in any meaningful way? Are you a farmer that enjoys direct to consumer sales but is hesitant to take the additional steps needed to begin augmenting your farm income with institutional sales? Are you a school administrator that has not yet connected with the vision of what Farm to School could mean to your school? Are you a parent with elementary school aged children that wants to see fresh local foods on your children’s lunch tray, but have no idea how best to help get that started at your school?

These Farm to School workshops, scheduled for Wheeler Hall on the SUNY Cobleskill campus on Thursday, January 4, 2018, are designed to empower each and everyone one of you to take a definitive step – or two – into the direction of starting up, or improving, your own Farm to School Programs.

However, this will be different than most conferences! Instead of throwing everything that WE know at you, we have selected several early must do’s that, once implemented, will place you on the path to delivering farm fresh foods to the students of the schools in your communities! Plus… give you an opportunity for post-conference follow-up.

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What’s in it for you?

Get the “big picture” (on the topics like the Community Economic Impact of Farm to School and the national obesity crisis and its relationship to learning, etc.) so that you can provide the information to others that you will need to influence… hear from those who had the same fears and face the same obstacles as you, but are succeeding in adopting a Farm to School and Farm to Institution concept… bring your menus to the ‘hands on’ workshop and work out the changes that need to be made in order to drive the implementation of Farm to School from once a year event to an every month action… or bring your farm food safety plan and walk through it with the experts to be sure you meet the intent of the plan in the absence of a GAP certification…  get in depth guidance on how to maneuver through several “procurement” or buying  regulations that will give local foods “a leg up”… and then tie it all together with new Buyer-Seller contacts at the post-conference  Networking Mixer beginning at 4:30pm.

Conference fee includes Lunch and the Buyer-Seller Networking Mixer (bring your business and/or rack cards) both located in Champlin Hall on the SUNY Cobleskill Campus.

5 CEU have been applied for through the NYS School Nutrition Association and the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Then… sign up for the February Conference Call to get any questions that arose once you returned home answered by our esteemed panel of experts at no additional charge! 

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Registration and Admission Fees:

EARLY BIRD Tickets! Reserve your place early and receive a deep discount of 26% off the regular admission price! $42.99 only through December 18th (with mail-in registrations also requiring a postmarked by December 18th)

* Please note that there is also discount pricing on tickets for SUNY Cobleskill staff/student and CCE Staff/Volunteer for the duration of ticket sales, except at the door. ID’s must be presented at conference sign-in on January 4th.

After December 18th, the conference and workshop price returns to general admission of $58.37 and at the door the day of, admission is $65.

A Mail-in registration form is also available for those who prefer to pay by check.

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Exhibition Opportunities:

If you want to have your company featured as a part of the conference.  We have exhibition space available.

The Exhibit Area is in Champlin Hall, 2nd Floor (with elevator access) in conjunction with a scheduled 4:30pm – 6:30pm post-conference Networking Buyer-Seller Mixer. No exhibit fee is charged if registered for the conference, and payment has been made as a conference attendee.

An opportunity exists for exhibitors to increase their profile to the attendees during the course of the day. Please ask for details prior to the exhibit registration being submitted.

Click Here to Register as an Exhibitor




Wheeler Hall, 1stFloor Auditorium



Regina Tillman (Schoharie Valley Farm to School Project /CCE)

Andra Spencer (NYS Ag & Markets / Farm to School)


Plenary: The Big Picture

Economic Impact of Farm to School on Communities

Jason Evans, Ph.D. (SUNY Cobleskill)

Nutrition, Health and Learning: An Important Package!

Anne Rogan, RD, Ph.D. (SUNY Cobleskill)

Land to Grow On and Space to Breathe

Glenda Neff (FINYS / American Farmland Trust)


– – – – – –    Stretch Break   – – – – – –


Panel: This Is How We Do It!  (3 Key Steps to Farm to School Success)

Joanne Lennon, MBA (Chicopee MA Public Schools)

Allissa Eiser, RD (Bethlehem Central School District, NY)

Glenda Neff (FINYS / American Farmland Trust)


Lunch with Speaker: Local Grains to School   

Champlin Hall, 2nd Floor

Amy Halloran, Local Food Advocate/Author “The New Bread Basket”/Pancake Maker Extraordinaire


Breakout Sessions

Wheeler Hall, 2nd Floor


Adjusting Your Menu and Minding Your Budget

Room 204

Rachel Harb, Farm to School, Chicopee MA Public Schools

Joanne Lennon, MBA, School Food Svc, Chicopee MA Public Schools


Get Your Farm Food Safety Plans Ready for Sales to Institutions

Room 203

Robert G. Hadad, Cornell Vegetable Program/CCE

Erik-John Knocho-Schnellenberg, Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Team /CCE


– – – – – – –    Stretch Break    – – – – – – –


Plenary Workshop


Local Procurement A-B-C’s for the Big Bids … and the Little Ones

Mark Bordeau, Broome-Tioga BOCES

Amanda Watson, Farm to School, NYS Dept. of Education


Closing Remarks/Evaluations/CEU Sign-ups



4:30pm – 6:30pm

Network! Buyer/Seller Mixer

Champlin Hall, 2nd Floor

Light refreshments with cash beer/wine/soda bar, exhibitor sponsored prize drawings. And, provide YOUR input into the regional “Harvest of the Month” schedule.

Champlin Hall Exhibitors  

Bassett Healthcare/Research Institute: 5210 Healthy Living Strategies

Peterson Farms, Inc.

NY Apple Country / NY Apple Association

Slate Foods

Schoharie Valley Farm to School Project

NYS Education Department / Farm to School  

Workshop Faculty and Planning Staff

Mark Bordeau, SNS :: Senior School Food Service Director for Broome Tioga BOCES (Endicott NY) and Vice President of the NYS School Nutrition Association.

In his workshop segment, Mark’s intention will be to have attendees intently focus upon utilizing Geographic Preferences by all those who are in the position to place bids out for produce/specialty crops, or other local products, to meet school food services requirements. He will walk through the process in a manner that allows both school food services and farmers know what they can do… and what they can expect… using this relatively easy method of prioritizing local foods for procurement without farmers losing significant revenue. Additionally, being well versed in large school procurement contracts, he has one or two other tips to provide attendees to ensure success in procuring locally. 

Allissa Eiser, RD :: Is Food Service Director at Bethlehem Central School District in Albany County NY, and active member of the NY School Nutrition Association.

Jason Evans, Ph.D :: His college and graduate studies always included economics, and ended with obtaining a Ph.D in Natural Resource Economics from West Virginia University. Coming to SUNY Cobleskill in 2009, he now wears several hats… Chair of the Department of Ag and Food Management, Coordinator of the Farm & Food Business Incubator, and as the Director of the Institute for Rural Vitality. While writing papers and grant applications in support of local foods systems, and enhancing the learning experience of SUNY Cobleskill Ag students, Jason still finds time to teach and mentor.

His presentation is part of the opening plenary that allows attendees to consideration the larger picture of Farm to School, such as its economic impact. Within that context, Jason will investigate – with the audience as active participants – the effect that our decisions to buy local foods for our children has on the economic health of surrounding communities.

Robert Hadid :: Joining us from Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Cornell Vegetable Program, Robert is a Regional Vegetable Specialist.

Robert’s main mission in his co-presentation of the workshop on creating a Farm Food Safety Plan is to help prepare farmers for their next steps in remaining viable stewards of their land by making sales to institutions like schools. He will walk farmers thru the initial phases of the Farm Food Safety Plan development process. Farmers… bring your Food Safety Plan so you can cross check it with Robert’s info and continue to modify the remainder when you return home. No Food Safety Plan? Then this is vital information for you and a template will be made available so you can begin it. We will conduct a follow-up conference call in February to confer on the rest of your plan’s development.

Amy Halloran :: Our lunch guest speaker comes from Troy NY. There she was instrumental in taking a tiny Troy Farmers Market and turning it into the local food phenomenon that is today, boosting over 90 venders each Saturday, be it indoor or outdoor. Always in love with grains, Amy has taken to exploring them in depth with a recent book published on the subject, entitled: The New Bread Basket – How the New Crop of Grain Growers, Plant Breeders, Millers, Maltsters, Bakers, Brewers, and Local Food Activists are Redefining Our Daily Loaf “. Thus, between running a community meals program currently in Troy, and a food pantry, this food advocate breaks away to share with us the good news on grains and challenges us to consider taking local grains into the schools! (Opportunity for booking signing will be provided; book also available via )

Rachel Harb :: Since 2016, Rachel has been the Farm to School Coordinator for the Chicopee Public Schools in Massachusetts and a Farm to School Consultant. In 2017, she also became the Training and Events Coordinator for Massachusetts Farm to School. Rachel’s interest in food and farming began to be demonstrated in her stint as a volunteer coordinator for a weeding crew of a community farm, and becoming the founder of the Burlington Farmer’s Market, both as of 2011. Spending a number of years with the very progressive UMass Auxiliary Enterprises/ Dining Services as Sustainability Director allow Rachel to communicate their healthy food initiatives and best practices to others. This, and other experiences including the study of permaculture, has helped her hone in on her more recent farm to school initiatives.

Joanne Lennon, MBA :: Is the Food and Nutrition Service Director at the Chicopee Public Schools, in Massachusetts, serving in that capacity for the past 25 years. She earned her undergraduate degree in Nutrition Education at UMass in Amherst and a MBA thru American International College in Springfield. She has served as past president of the Massachusetts School Nutrition Association, received a USDA “Healthier US School Challenge” Award for all of her elementary schools, as well as two USDA “Best Practice” Awards for Nutrition Education, is a founding member of the MA Farm to School, and developed the Farm to School Program at her school, called ChicopeeFRESH, which has been awarded over $125,000 to date. And, by-the-way, Joanne oversees a $4 million budget and serves 10,000 meals per day.

Rachel and Joanne are a team back in Chicopee MA, and they present as a team for us as well in order to lead school food service attendees thru the afternoon breakout session on “Adjusting Your Menu and Minding Your Budget”. Institutionalizing local specialty crop procurement, or any other local foods, begins with the menu. If it’s on the menu, you’re more likely to consider sourcing. But how does one juggle the costs (product? staff prep time? equipment?) associated with preparing food from scratch? Bring your own menus so that you can use the time which will be provided to immediately make adjustments in your menus and be ready to implement them when you get back home. 

Enrique Johnson :: A graduate of SUNY Albany with an undergraduate degree in English augmented with two minors, Psychology and Rhetoric & Communications, Enrique has applied his talents to a career that spans several New York State Departments including Labor, Health and the Office of People with Disabilities. Many of his positions included review, evaluation and interpretation of laws, financial information and regulations, analysis of legal precedents, statistical reporting, creation of new processes of review and analysis, development of new guidance documents and reporting structures that affect either thousands of citizens of NYS or millions of taxpayer dollars. As a supportive subcontractor to this conference, he brings to it extensive computing skills. As an accomplished analyst with a background in research methodology and communications, he is our go-to person for our promotional elements in the conference development, as well as for our evaluation instruments and reporting requirements. 

Erik-John Knocho-Schnellenberg :: Working out of the Orange County Office for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Middletown NY, Erik-John has been a long-standing member of the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Team, as Food Safety Educator Specialist.

Erik-John co-presents the breakout workshop with Robert Hadid entitled, “Get Your Farm Food Safety Plans Ready for Sales to Institutions”. Together, Erik-John and Robert are ideal resources to clarify the misconceptions in the field including when a Food Safety Plan will suffice, and when it will not… and how having one can set the foundation for the future of your farm enterprise. Not ready for GAP’s Certification? A Food Safety Plan gets you a leg-up and only requires you to “do the right thing” when it comes to food handling on your farm. Again… you are requested to bring into the class your own Food Safety Plan if you already have one so you can make adjustments as needed as you come to better understand the intent of this plan and how to implement. 

Glenda Neff :: With a long history of advocacy for local food and farms, Glenda began in her native Wayne County NY with involving herself in starting a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Buying Club and becoming active in NOFA-NY and the NY Sustainable Ag Working Group.  Today she leads FINYS  (Farm to Institutions NYS) – a partnership of agriculture, economic development and public health interests – working to scale up local food economies by expanding the volume of food grown in New York that is served in institutions ( such as colleges, hospitals and schools.) FINYS was founded in 2013 by the American Farmland Trust which works to save the land that sustains us.

Glenda will share the wisdom gathered in those years as food activist and policy-maker, both on the grand scale in the morning’s plenary session on what the local food movement means to the effort of keeping land that is ideally suited for agriculture from rapid development, as well as on a more intimate scale as panelist for “3 Keys to Success”, providing attendees with salient tips. 

Anne Rogan, RD, Ph.D, CDN :: Having earned her undergraduate degree in Human Nutrition, she obtained her Masters in Food Science, with both being awarded by the Ivy League’s Cornell University. Her dietetic internship was accomplished at the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN and her Ph.D in Administrative Systems came about from her studies in statistical process control at Union College in Schenectady NY. She is currently a professor in the Culinary Arts Department at SUNY Cobleskill, teaching a range of topics from nutrition to food purchasing.

Anne is excited about her contributing presentation in the morning’s “Big Picture” plenary, connecting for attendees the role of nutrition and health to academic learning outcomes which is a growing science as well as looking at the interface with “processed and plastics”. Imagine that what we feed our kids may have a direct relationship to what kind of grades they achieve in school and their possibility of living long lives of high quality! 

Andra Spencer :: Member of the Farm to School Team of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. 

Amanda Watson :: Member of the Farm to School Team of the NYS Department of Education.

Regina Tillman, MS :: A graduate of the prestigious Combined Internship-Master’s Degree program in Human Nutrition at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University, Regina was a Registered Dietitian for the following 33 years. Employed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs for 27 of those years, she performed a full range of duties and positions including clinical, managerial and senior executive, with a foray from time to time into research, and becoming Food and Nutrition Services Department Program Manager. However, she never got too far from the impulse to showcase the talents and ideas around her, creating numerous professional development programs and promotional events during her career with the VA, including one held at West Point Military Academy. The initial portion of past 10 years found her associated with Cornell Cooperative Extension as a Nutrition Resource Educator and becoming the lead of several community interventions. Farm to School won out, however, and she became devoted to the concept in spite of having to pursue it eventually in a volunteer status. In 2015, she applied for one of the initial six NYS Farm to School Grants, and this conference is a direct result of that grant award. 

Videography and Photography Support

Cindy Schultz :: An esteemed photographic journalist, formerly on staff of the Albany Times Union newspaper for over 18 years, Cindy has recently hung up her own shingle. Hailing originally from Minnesota, she was bitten by the photography bug early on and obtained her BA degree in Journalism with an emphasis in visual communications before making her way to the NY Capital Region. Her visual story-telling skills are available to all to tap into at:

Douglas C.  MacLeod, Jr., Ph.D.  :: Having earned his doctorate of Arts in Humanities at SUNY Albany, Doug has been teaching intercultural communication, script writing, visual media, cinema, mass media, and composition and literature courses at the SUNY Cobleskill Communications Department since 2013. An inter-disciplinarian, Dr. MacLeod stresses to his students the importance of both having a specialty and being well-rounded.

Steven Snyder :: Student of the SUNY Cobleskill Department of Communications.

Enrique Johnson :: See Enrique’s detailed information above. However, not only is he a financial and process analyst, he can also claim significant undergraduate course work in film studies, with previous involvement in both shooting and editing. His creative creds include direction of a stage production at the Albany Civic Theater.

Facilities Support

Evelyn Davies :: Coordinator, SUNY Cobleskill Office of Campus Events and Conferences

Derrick McIntyre :: Catering Coordinator, SUNY Cobleskill Auxiliary Service

Staffing & Volunteer Support

Mary Beth Ballard :: Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie & Otsego Counties

Jan Ryder :: Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie & Otsego Counties

Jennifer Koval :: Cornell Cooperative Extension Saratoga County


This conference is provided through a NYS Farm to School Grant (2016 – 2018), administered through the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, and awarded to Regina Tillman, Schoharie Valley Farm to School Project Director under the auspices of Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie & Otsego Counties.

The grant’s short term objectives being sought through these workshops are to achieve increases in knowledge, skills, and awareness, along with aspirations, in order to move schools toward a heightened acceptance of their capacity to implement a Farm to School concept, and thus, begin to generate a market demand for locally grown specialty crops and other farm produced products.

The Schoharie Valley Farm to School Project operates with the support of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie and Otsego County.

Cornell Cooperative Extension is 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, providing equal program and employment opportunities.

The Workshop is also aided by the generous contributions of SUNY Cobleskill, the New York School Nutrition Association and the New York Apple Association.