One school district in Upstate New York is saving tens of thousands of dollars every year by making food in the cafeteria from scratch rather than buying frozen. And the students love it!

In 2021 Plattsburgh City Schools overhauled their food service program to focus on cooking from scratch, using locally grown foods. It not only saves the district $100,000 a year, but the kids actually like the food being served. They're doing better in class too.

"Within one month a principal reached out and commented that his teachers were saying the students were calmer, they were better behaved," Julie Holbrook, Shared Food Service Director said.

Credit - Adirondack Harvest via Facebook
Credit - Adirondack Harvest via Facebook

Bye Bye Frozen, Hello Fresh

Gone are the frozen pre-packaged foods. Lunch now consists of nourishing meals made with local veggies, fruit, dairy products, meat, and grains. "Over the last year we have seen more excitement in the students," said School Lunch Manager, Jocelyn Lopez.

Students love the homemade ranch dressing, granola, and delicious potatoes from Juniper Hill Farms.

"I see the progress that I never saw before in terms of local food purchasing," said Adam Hainer, owner of Juniper Hill Farms."The kids drive by these fields on their bus route. Engaging youth in agriculture is really important and I think we do that through food."

Credit - Adirondack Harvest via Facebook
Credit - Adirondack Harvest via Facebook

More Kids Eating Lunch

By transitioning to a food service program that focuses on cooking from scratch and local ingredients, the food service team at Plattsburgh City Schools is supporting local farmers and saving taxpayers money while increasing the number of students eating healthy meals every day.

Most schools are lucky to get 50% year-round participation for lunch. At Plattsburgh schools, Holbrook says the average is anywhere from 60 to 90%.

Changing School Cafeteria Food

For any other district that wants to change food in their cafeterias, Holbrook suggests starting small. "Start with one item that is a kid-friendly food."

Want to learn more about how to support local food being served at schools? Fill out the Farm to School form online.

Find farm fresh food and local products at

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