The Department of Education announced that more than 230 elementary schools will receive grants totaling more than $7 million to provide students with fresh fruits and vegetables during the school day.
“Over the past several years Pennsylvania has strengthened its approach to student nutrition and throughout the commonwealth’s response to COVID-19 there has been intense focus on students’ access to food,” Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. “School meals are integral to student health, and these fresh food grants help our school communities provide nutritious food to fuel our students’ growth academically and physically.”
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. FFVP was first implemented in Pennsylvania in 2004 and expanded to all 50 states in 2008.
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 a majority 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.