Merski, Harkins: Nearly $60k secured to promote Erie agriculture, boost preschooler nutrition, teach food science and safety

ERIE, Jan. 9 – Nearly $60,000 in funding to several Erie organizations awarded under the state Department of Agriculture’s PA Farm Bill will support urban agriculture, provide farm-fresh food for preschoolers, and teach them about gardening and boost educational programs in food science and safety, state Reps. Rob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced.

“The new funding is going to help boost preschooler nutrition and inspire young students to learn about urban gardening and the key role it can play in addressing food insecurity,” Merski said.

“In addition to funding projects for younger students, the new grants will help strengthen urban agriculture projects and enrich programs that teach older students about food science and safety,” Harkins said.

The lawmakers said the funding includes: 

  • $22,614 Agriculture and Youth matching grant to Northwestern Community Youth Center for equipment for raised beds and kitchen expansion.
  • $14,883 Agriculture and Youth matching grant to Sisters of Saint Joseph Neighborhood Network for urban agriculture project sites.
  • $8,589 Farm to School grant to Early Connections Inc. for a project to incorporate gardening in the pre-K curriculum, add taste-testing of nutritious foods, and aid in procurement from local farms.
  • $7,500 Agriculture and Youth direct grant to the Pennsylvania State University Behrend for garden beds and supplies for the Sustainable Food System Program.
  • $5,850 Agriculture and Youth direct grant to the Pennsylvania State University for Farm to Fork food kits to teach food safety and the science of food.

Agriculture and Youth matching grants provide youth organizations matching reimbursement grants of up to $25,000 for capital projects or equipment purchases, while Agriculture and Youth direct grants provide youth organizations direct, non-matching grants of up to $7,500 to defray costs for education or workforce  development seminars or field trips; agricultural safety training programs; and capital projects or equipment.

Farm to School grants provide schools funding to improve access to healthy, local foods and increase agriculture education opportunities for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. More about all the funding is available here: