YORK, Pa., Jan. 25, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Representatives from the Pennsylvania Departments of Education (PDE) and Agriculture (PDA) today visited York Suburban Middle School to announce the awarding of Farm to School grants, which will provide students with access to fresh, healthy food sourced locally. During the visit, PDE Executive Deputy Secretary David Volkman and PDA Secretary Russell Redding witnessed Farm to School in action as students sampled produce that the school district sourced from Flinchbaugh's Orchard, Millers Plant Farm, and Brogue Hydroponics.
"Over the past decade, the farm to school movement has exploded across the United States, and the Department of Education is proud to facilitate its expansion in the commonwealth," said Education Secretary Pedro Rivera. "The Farm to School grant program will bring locally-sourced, nutritious meals to students in our schools, so that they may learn to make healthy choices, whether at home or in school."
"With each succeeding generation, people are getting further and further removed from production agriculture," said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. "For many of these students, farm to school programs like these help to restore the connection between the foods we enjoy and their origin. These mini-grants give our young people the chance to explore new fruits and vegetables raised by local farmers. In addition to expanding their palates, discovering new foods also may inspire students to explore career opportunities in agriculture they may never have considered because they didn't even realize that these careers exist."
York Suburban School District is among 30 awardees receiving grants of up to $1,000 to implement farm to school activities such as student taste-testing of local products, farm-related field trips, school garden activities, and efforts to incorporate local products in school meals. Funding is provided by PDE's Division of Food and Nutrition.
Helen Heidler, Food Service Director for Whitsons Culinary Group at York Suburban School District, says that the mini-grant funds will allow the school to expand upon previous taste-testing events that have included sampling of tri-colored cauliflower and cabbage from Miller's Plant Farm and local apples from Flinchbaugh's Orchard. She added that she is "excited to be able to introduce foods to students that they may have never tried or may have never even seen before."
Whitsons is pleased to support the Farm to School program and is committed to supporting local agriculture and educating students about wholesome foods and nutrition.
The 2015 USDA Farm to School Census shows that 44 percent of surveyed Pennsylvania school districts participate in farm to school activities, and that there are more than 130 school gardens growing in Pennsylvania.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education