Shapiro Admin Offers $500K Grants for PA Farm Bill To Boost Ag Ed, Healthy School Foods

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Farmer tending to crops, close-up image of produce emerging from soil.
Image via PA Department of Agriculture, Facebook.
The Shapiro Administration's PA Farm-to-School Grants offer schools funding for projects promoting healthy eating and agriculture careers.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding revealed that Pennsylvania’s Farm-to-School Grant program is offering schools and childhood centers to apply for up to $15,000 for eligible projects.

This program, funded by Governor Josh Shapiro’s budget, supports healthy eating habits and future careers in agriculture. To date, more than $2.6 million has been awarded to 237 projects across 50 counties.

“These grants are an investment in our children’s health and their future,” said Secretary Redding. “Introducing kids to fresh, local food enriches the connection between families and local producers and imparts meaningful changes in the lives of our youth while strengthening their bond with their communities. Funded Farm-to-School Grant programs enable students to learn about local farmers, make healthy choices, and explore exciting career opportunities.”

Eligible applicants include school districts, charter schools, private schools, and centers with pre-kindergarten through eighth grade that participate in the Federal Child Nutrition Program. Funded projects can involve partnering with local farmers to source fresh produce or building and improving school gardens to incorporate hands-on educational agriculture activities that encourage healthy eating.

“The PA Farm Bill’s Farm-to-School Grant has made it possible for hundreds of schools across the Commonwealth to enhance and strengthen their farm-to-school programs,” said Samantha Gibb, Senior Associate at The Food Trust and Coordinator for the PA Farm to School Network. “School food service professionals are able to procure local food to serve in school meals from farmers in their area for the first time, opening up valuable market opportunities for Pennsylvania growers. Educators are able to provide kids with hands-on experiences in school gardens, through in-classroom taste tests and taking kids on farm field trips.”

The PA Farm to School Network stands ready with resources to support schools and farmers in their efforts to ensure kids are connected to and nourished by thriving and resilient community food systems.

“Access to nutritious food is a critical component of ensuring students can focus, learn, and achieve in school, and the Farm-to-School Grants help make that access more readily available to learners across the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “This funding complements the Shapiro Administration’s commitment to keeping students healthy and fed through universal free breakfast while supporting Pennsylvania’s farmers and agriculture industry as a whole.”

Grant applications must be submitted online through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development Electronic Single Application. Applications are due by 4:00 PM on Friday, Jun. 7, 2024.

Full grant guidelines were published in the Apr. 27 edition of the PA Bulletin.

Visit the recently launched Farm-to-School Network Dashboard, built in collaboration with Saint Joseph’s University, to learn about the programs that have already been implemented across the Commonwealth. Additionally, you can explore a map of previous Farm-to-School and other PA Farm Bill Grant recipients in your area, as well as details of initiatives to grow and sustain Pennsylvania agriculture at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

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