The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is encouraging schools, child care centers, and summer meal sites to participate in the Pennsylvania Harvest of the Month Program and other programs that connect farms with schools to get more fresh, locally grown food on students’ plates.
Pennsylvania Harvest of the Month is coordinated by Project PA, a collaboration between PDE and Penn State University’s Department of Nutritional Sciences. Launched in August 2020 via a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School grant, the program provides tools and resources for promoting local products to help expand students’ palates and understanding of food grown across the commonwealth. A Pennsylvania Harvest of the Month calendar identifies a Pennsylvania-grown agricultural product each month. To facilitate connections between schools and farms, links to resources to find PA farms and growers are provided along with recipes that incorporate the designated item of the month.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has also supported the program with the inclusion of Pennsylvania Harvest of the Month Promotional Kits. “Ensuring students have access to healthy food is critical to help them develop and grow,” said Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam. “Consuming the proper amount of fruits and vegetables can help students focus better in school.”
Although not required, a growing number of schools, childcare centers, and summer meal sites from across the commonwealth participate in the program. Read about how schools have implemented the PA Harvest of the Month program.
In addition to PA Harvest of the Month, other programs are coordinated that support school community access to nutritious, healthy, and locally grown foods. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture offers the Pennsylvania Farm to School Grant Program, which provides schools with opportunities to apply for funding to improve access to healthy, local foods and increases agriculture education opportunities for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.