Kiski Area East Primary scores $26,000 grant for fresh fruits and veggies
The Kiski Area Primary School in Vandergrift is the only school in Alle-Kiski Valley to be awarded a federal grant, $26,000, to pay for fresh fruit and vegetables for students for the 2018-19 school year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds the grants, which are awarded through the state and promote healthy eating. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced the grant winners.
For at least the last five years, the Kiski Area Primary School has received the grant, which is based on a ratio of low-income students, according to Meredith Bailey, food services director for the Kiski Area School District.
An even distribution of a fresh vegetable or fruit is plated and served up as an early afternoon snack daily for students and distributed in the classrooms, she said.
“We get mainstream stuff and food they wouldn’t normally try,” Bailey said.
Kiwi berries, star fruit, tri-colored carrots and different colors of broccoli and cauliflower can show up at pupils’ desks.
“It encourages them accept new thing so when they are in the lunch line they might try out other produce,” she said.
Additionally, Bailey provides teachers with educational information on the produce. “Students are not just eating but learning,” she said.
The Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program was created federally, with an early pilot project in Pennsylvania, a decade ago.
The program’s goals are to create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices and expanding the variety of fruits and vegetables students can experience.
To qualify for a grant, a school must have a free and reduced meal eligibility of 50 percent or more. Grantees are required to spend a majority of their grant on the purchase of fresh fruit and vegetable and must develop a plan to establish partnerships to reduce other costs.