West Chester, Pa (August 18, 2023) – Five elementary schools in the Coatesville Area School District will receive federal funding to provide students with fresh fruit and vegetable snacks during the school day, state Senator Carolyn Comitta and U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan announced.
The grant funds, provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) and administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, are as follows:
- Caln Elementary School will receive $33,480.
- East Fallowfield Elementary School will receive $23,760.
- Kings Highway Elementary School will receive $34,920.
- Rainbow Elementary School will receive $48,456.
- Reeceville Elementary School will receive $23,976.
“Young people need food to learn and grow and this funding help provide them with healthy and nutritious options, like fresh fruits and vegetables,” Comitta, who serves on the Senate Education Committee, said. “And we hope that promoting fresh fruit and vegetables as healthy snack options in school helps lead students to establish better eating habits at home and outside the classroom.”
“Our children, particularly our youngest students, need access to healthy food in order to learn while at school,” said U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan. “These valuable grant funds from the USDA and from the PA Department of Education provide more than fresh fruit and vegetables. They are an opportunity to invest in our next generation and to help our kids grow and thrive. I appreciate Senator Comitta and Secretary Mumin’s commitment to helping children in our Commonwealth.”
The goal of the FFVP is to create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices, expanding the variety of fruits and vegetables that students can try, increasing unprocessed fruit and vegetable consumption, and positively impacting students’ present and future health. Additionally, it promotes nutrition education among students.
“In order to learn, grow, and achieve, children need access to healthy food options,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program will help learners across the Commonwealth access nutritious foods and create healthy habits—at no cost to their families—that will benefit them both in the classroom and at home.”
The program, implemented in Pennsylvania in 2004 and now available in all 50 states, has successfully introduced elementary school children to a variety of produce that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to try. According to the USDA, it also helps combat childhood obesity by increasing the overall acceptance and consumption of healthier food alternatives among children.
Under the program, selected schools receive reimbursement for the cost of making free fresh fruits and vegetables available to students during the school day. These fresh fruits and vegetables must be provided separately from the lunch or breakfast meal, in one or more areas of the school during the school day.
To be eligible, schools must participate in the National School Lunch Program. FFVP prioritizes schools with the highest percentage of children eligible for free and reduced-price meals in order to give children from low-income families more opportunities regularly to consume fresh produce.
The funding for the CASD schools comes as part of nearly $7.5 million in FFVP grants awarded to 252 elementary schools across the Commonwealth.