The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Agriculture today announced that it has received more than $222,000 in funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Grant Program to improve students’ access to fresh, local foods and foster economic opportunity for farmers.
“PDE is thrilled to be chosen as a recipient of USDA’s Farm to School state agency grant. Promoting healthy eating habits and the use of fresh, local foods is just one way we can continue to build upon child nutrition efforts,” said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty. “This grant will help PDE expand programs and host regional farm to child nutrition gatherings. We thank USDA for its continued support in our efforts to make sure that youth across the commonwealth have the healthy foods they need to grow and learn.”
More local foods in schools
Farm to School grants are designed to increase the availability of local foods in schools and can help farm-to-school programs get started or expand their existing efforts. These funds support a wide range of activities and include entities such as schools and districts, non-profits, and state and local agencies.
The grant will allow the commonwealth to implement programming and services that will improve students’ access to nutritious, local foods. Through this funding, PDE will gather information related to local food purchasing incentives by speaking with leaders in states that have these types of child nutrition programs established, and will gather input from Pennsylvanians on how this type of program would be designed.
The grant will also help to expand the statewide PA Harvest of the Month program (PA HOM) with new features such as short culinary videos and gardening guidance on PA HOM items, information sheets for food producers on how to connect with child nutrition programs that are implementing PA HOM, and PA HOM content used in school districts. The funding will also allow for two regional Farm to School convenings, one in eastern Pennsylvania and one in western Pennsylvania.
Education on Food, Agriculture
“When students learn where their food comes from, it feeds their minds and feeds our economy,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “USDA Farm to School grants help students make connections that not only change their eating habits and their family’s eating habits for life, but can inspire careers in agriculture, where there will be real job opportunities when they graduate.”
Four other organizations across the commonwealth also received FY22 Farm to School grants, including Weavers Way Community Programs d/b/a Food Moxie (Philadelphia), the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry, and Tourism (Oil City), the Manchester Academic Charter School (Pittsburgh), and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh). Reaching youth ages Pre-K through high school, these organizations’ unique projects will have a lasting impact on the communities they serve.
This year is the tenth year in a row that organizations in Pennsylvania have received a grant since they were first awarded in 2013.