Longietti: More than $35,000 in grants will bring fresh fruits, vegetables to area elementary school menus

SHARON, July 16 – Mercer County elementary school students will benefit from more fresh fruits and vegetables on the menu, thanks to two grants to the Sharon City School District totaling $35,306, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, announced.

Longietti said the funding – which comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program – includes $17,538 to C.M. Musser Elementary School and $17,768 to West Hill Elementary School.

“I’m thrilled that we were successful in helping to secure this funding,” Longietti said. “There are so many benefits associated with proper nutrition in school. Studies consistently show that students with healthier diets are better able to concentrate and retain information and that they perform better academically, particularly in subjects like math and reading.

“Supplementing the menu with fruits and vegetables is also a great way to boost kids’ immune systems and fight against infection, which is so important in a school setting, where close contact means it’s easy for germs to spread.”

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program began in Pennsylvania in 2004 and is now in every state. Funding priority is given to the schools with the highest rates of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals. The program’s goal is to expand the variety of fruits and vegetables in schools by increasing consumption among students with the hope of positively impacting their present and future health.

More than 200 elementary schools across Pennsylvania were selected to receive the grants, which total nearly $5.5 million.