Last fall during National Farm-to-School Month, students across New York learned where the food for their school meals comes from by participating in a New York Thursdays contest, sponsored by American Dairy Association North East.

With the highest participation in the contest, the Roy B. Kelley Elementary School in Lockport (Niagara County) won the grand prize package. During December, 400 students received an exclusive and interactive virtual experience with Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isiah McKenzie and also toured a local dairy farm virtually from their classroom.

“It is always fulfilling to meet with local students and help them establish a connection between the food they eat, where it comes from and how it is made,” said dairy farmer Tyler Beck of Beck Farms in Freeville, N.Y. “This virtual tour is a great opportunity for students who might never get a chance to visit a farm in person.”

“We are fortunate that these programs are available for schools like ours,” said Tom Hegarty, Lockport City School District Food Service Director. “We want to thank American Dairy Association North East for continuing to prioritize school meals and providing our students with two unique experiences.”

A group of children in a classroom sitting on a rug enjoying a virtual tour of a farm projected from a screen.

Students gathered to watch a Virtual Farm Tour from the comforts of their own classroom. This is one of many ways American Dairy Association North East helps students learn about where their food comes from

In addition to the two virtual experiences, American Dairy Association North East provided the school with a breakfast kiosk and insulated breakfast bags that will increase access to healthy school meals and boost participation. Breakfast kiosks are a great alternative meal service, giving students an opportunity to grab their meals on the go. Insulated bags help schools transport food products in a safe and efficient manner while keeping items – such as milk and yogurt – at an optimal temperature.

The New York Thursdays program, launched in 2015 by the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets with the help of American Dairy Association North East, is a statewide initiative to increase the availability of locally-sourced foods – such as milk, cheese and yogurt from local dairy farmers – for school meals. American Dairy Association North East works with schools to increase local food options on school menus and sponsors the annual “New York Thursdays” contest each year to help educate students.

Look out for more farm-to-school resources from American Dairy Association North East as we continue to develop this program. In the meantime, if your school is looking to bring programs like New York Thursdays to your students, please contact us at