HARRISBURG, Pa. — Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced the approval of nearly $500,000 in Farm to School Grants to fund 47 projects that will improve access to healthy, local foods and increase agricultural experiential learning for children pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
“Agriculture and nutrition are essential elements for children to learn, grow and succeed,” said Secretary Redding. “Farm to School increases healthy, local food offerings in schools while supporting Pennsylvania farmers. It also facilitates experiential learning opportunities that are growing future generations of agriculturalists and consumers. Investing in Farm to School is investing in the future.”
The Pennsylvania Farm Bill Farm to School Grant Program aims to enrich the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early childhood education sites. Any school district, charter school, or private school with pre-kindergarten classes, kindergarten or elementary through fifth grade was eligible to apply for the program.
The 47 approved projects have identified local farmers who will supply fresh, in-season products to support programming or have plans to initiate their own school garden to produce hyper-local foods. In addition to providing students with access to local, nutritious foods, approved projects provide a variety of hands-on agriculture education experiences.
The full list of approved projects can be found online.
“The Farm to School grant program is a win-win, providing students with nutritious meals, while creating new opportunities for Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry to thrive,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Noe Ortega. “Ensuring that learners can access healthy food will improve educational outcomes and social emotional experiences all across the commonwealth.”
Pennsylvania has long faced an agricultural workforce shortage. At one point the industry anticipated a deficit of 75,000 workers as farmers retire and new, technology-based positions become available. Many Pennsylvania Farm Bill programs – including Farm to School, Ag & Youth and Farm Vitality – were designed to address workforce challenges and strengthen the future of the industry.
The PA Farm Bill is Governor Tom Wolf’s bold, aggressive and necessary investment in Pennsylvania agriculture to grow opportunities and resources, remove barriers to entry and inspire future generations of agriculturalists. For more information about the PA Farm Bill, visit agriculture.pa.gov/
For more about Farm to School, visit agriculture.pa.gov.
–Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture