$7 Million Awarded to 288 Elementary Schools in Pennsylvania for Health Foods

vegetablesImage by Jill Wellington

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced this week that 288 elementary schools will receive grants totaling more than $7 million to provide students with fresh fruit and vegetable snacks during the school day.

“Healthy, nutritious meals are essential to a child’s growth and success,” said Education Secretary Noe Ortega. “These fresh food grants will help ensure students have access to fresh produce that they may not be introduced to otherwise, while also supporting their physical and academic growth.

The funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). The program’s goals are to create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices, expand the variety of fruits and vegetables students experience, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and positively impact students’ present and future health. The FFVP was implemented in Pennsylvania in 2004 and is now available in all 50 states.

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Funding priority is given to the schools with the highest rates of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals. Grantees are required to spend most of their grant on the purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables and must develop a plan to establish partnerships to reduce other costs. Schools are also required to provide nutrition education to students but cannot use FFVP funding to purchase nutrition education materials.

“The fresh fruit and vegetable program provides young students exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables that may otherwise not have the opportunity, and provides them a healthy snack at the same time,” said State Director of Child Nutrition Programs under the Division of Food and Nutrition, Vonda Ramp M.S., R.D. “We are delighted to provide this opportunity to the awarded schools.”

During his tenure, Governor Wolf has made combating hunger a priority. In 2015 he established the Food Security Partnership, a group comprised of the secretaries of the departments of Aging, Agriculture, Community and Economic Development, Education, Health, and Human Services; unveiled the commonwealth’s food security plan – Setting the Table: A Blueprint for a Hunger-free PA 2016; and introduced the Governor’s School Breakfast Initiative in 2017.

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For a list of the 2021 grant recipients, visit PDE’s School Nutrition Programs website.

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