HARRISBURG, PA. – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding on Friday announced the approval of nearly $ 400,000 for farm-to-school grants to fund 39 projects that will improve access to healthy, local food and raise children’s awareness of pre-kindergarten children aim to improve up to fifth grade in agriculture.

“Today’s children are the future of farming in Pennsylvania,” Redding said. “When I see these 39 projects and their goals to invest in programs that not only improve the nutrition of children, but also give them the opportunity to gain first-hand farming experience to increase their knowledge and awareness I have a bright future for the industry that feeds Pennsylvania. “

The Pennsylvania Farm Bill The Farm to School Grant program aims to enrich communities’ connection with fresh, healthy food and local producers by changing food purchasing and educational practices in schools and early childhood education. Any school district, charter school or private school with preschool classes, kindergarten or elementary school up to fifth grade – regardless of whether personal, virtual or hybrid teaching models were offered – could apply for the program.

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Each of the 39 approved projects have identified local farmers who supply fresh, in-season produce to aid their programming, or have plans to set up their own garden or school farm to produce hyper-local produce. The approved projects not only provide students with access to local, nutritious food, but also provide a variety of farming education experiences.

Rachel Whitley of Zhang Sah Martial Arts, a Philadelphia neighborhood street fellow, attended the event to discuss her $ 15,000 project to support a garden they planted in 2020. With her funding for the Farm to School, Zhang Sah would like to immediately address access to food to her student body and local community.

Whitley outlined his plans to provide hands-on opportunities to 42 students by the end of June and 10 hours of agricultural professional development for each employee to support the students working in the community garden.

A full list of approved projects can be found at agriculture.pa.gov.