Merski, Harkins: More than $350,000 in grant funding will bring fresh produce to Erie elementary schools

ERIE, Aug. 4 – Erie elementary school students will see more fresh fruits and vegetables on the menu, thanks to $354,705 in grant funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today.

The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said funding under the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program includes $311,870 to elementary schools in the Erie City School District and $42,835 to the Iroquois School District.

“Decades of studies show a direct link between nutrition and kids’ ability to focus and learn, and it’s something I have seen firsthand during my years in the classroom,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to help ensure Erie’s grade-schoolers have access to those dietary benefits, regardless of household income."

Harkins said, “I’m thrilled we were able to secure this funding. In addition to staving off hunger and providing the kinds of healthy menu options kids need to do well in class, fresh fruits and vegetables are key to boosting the immune system and fighting disease. That’s more important than ever this year.”

The lawmakers said the grants are part of a package of more than $7 million awarded to 288 elementary schools statewide under the FFVP. Funding priority was given to the schools with the highest rates of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals.

More information about the grants is available here, and a full list of the schools receiving funding is available here.