Six Luzerne County school districts have nabbed a total of $668,975 in state grants designed to increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetable snacks available during the school day. The money will go to a total of 19 local schools.
The grants — $7 million total statewide — come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), designed “to create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices, expand the variety of fruits and vegetables students experience, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and positively impact students’ present and future health.” according to a media release from the state department of education.
Which schools get grants, and how much, is determined by the rate of students eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch program. Schools are required “to spend most of their grant on the purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables and must develop a plan to establish partnerships to reduce other costs,” according to the release. “Schools are also required to provide nutrition education to students but cannot use FFVP funding to purchase nutrition education materials.”
Wilkes-Barre Area School District got the largest chunk of local funds, $259,935 for five schools. Wyoming Valley West got the second largest amount, $145,920 for five schools. And Hazleton Area got the third largest amount, $127,530 for three schools.
Hanover Area got $77,545 for four schools, while Greater Nanticoke Area and Pittston Area each got grants for one school, $29,965 for the former and $28,080 for the latter.
“Healthy, nutritious meals are essential to a child’s growth and success,” Education Secretary Noe Ortega said in the release. “These fresh food grants will help ensure students have access to fresh produce that they may not be introduced to otherwise, while also supporting their physical and academic growth.”