Harkins, Merski: $12,000 grant to bring fresh food, focus on agriculture to pre-k students

Will fund food, books, agricultural learning at Early Connections Inc.

ERIE, Oct. 26 – State grant funding of $11,876 will bring Erie pre-k students greater access to fresh foods and a chance to learn about the importance of agriculture, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today.

The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to Early Connections Inc. – awarded by the state Department of Agriculture under the Pennsylvania Farm Bill’s Farm to School Program – can help the center shape healthy habits and stimulate interest in farming.

“With so much cleverly advertised junk food around, it’s critical to make kids understand that there are healthy alternatives out there and that they have the power to make smarter choices,” Harkins said. “By providing access to local foods from Edinboro Farmers Market, this funding is going to help expose kids to those more nutritious options.”

Merski said, “In addition to expanding access to nutritious foods, the grant to Early Connections will fund agriculturally focused children’s books and class programs and a field trip to a local maple syrup producer. By stimulating kids’ curiosity and teaching them that it can be empowering to grow their own food, we’re helping ensure a fresh crop of young minds dedicated to keeping urban agriculture thriving here in the region.”

The grant is part of a package of funding to 47 projects designed to improve access to healthy local foods and boost agricultural learning for pre-K through 5th grade students.