Pittsburgh Public Schools to benefit from USDA Farm to School Grant
Last updated 7/25/2018 at 9:09pm
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced $5.2 million in grant awards to bring nutritious, local foods into schools and create new economic opportunities for farmers.
Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS), in partnership with Grow Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council (PFPC), is one of only two Farm to School grant recipients in Pennsylvania and will be the second Western PA recipient in the history of the grant.
“The expansion of the farm to school program through our partnership with Grow Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council is just one of the ways we are utilizing the resources on our community in a smarter way to reach our goals for students,” said Superintendent Anthony Hamlet. “Accessibility to healthy food, such as fresh produce, is essential to meeting the holistic needs of all students.”
The grant funds, which will be allocated for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years, will be used to strengthen successful farm to school initiatives already in place at several Pittsburgh Public Schools, and create a standardized district-wide farm to school program. Grow Pittsburgh, PFPC and PPS will engage local growers to incorporate fresh, local produce in schools, and collaborate with teachers, parents, students and food service staff to increase awareness, support and technical skills.
“From Pre-K to high school, farm to school programs benefit everyone from students and teachers to parents and producers,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps. “Connecting people to their food builds stronger ties to community agriculture and an appreciation for those who care for our land.”
The Farm to School Grants are competitively available to eligible schools, state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers, and non-profit entities. Funds may be used for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, cultivating partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs.
“After over a decade of work supporting school gardens in the district, this is an incredible opportunity and a logical next step to collaborate with our partners at PPS and the PFPC to expand farm to school efforts and create direct connections between school gardens, local farms and the food and education happening in the cafeteria daily,” said Jake Seltman, executive director of Grow Pittsburgh.