UPPER MARLBORO – Over the past month the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has awarded Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) with two separate grants to help provide meals to students. The MSDE provided the two grants to schools across the state, with $3.37 million for the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program (FFVP) shared […]
UPPER MARLBORO – Over the past month the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has awarded Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) with two separate grants to help provide meals to students.
The MSDE provided the two grants to schools across the state, with $3.37 million for the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program (FFVP) shared across 146 schools, and $6.9 million to 471 schools for Maryland Meal For Achievement (MMFA).
The funds for the FFVP program are provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“The FFVP targets schools located in communities that lack regular access to healthy and affordable foods. Every child enrolled in a participating school is offered the fruit and vegetable snacks,” MSDE said. “The program is viewed as a catalyst for change, by teaching students to accept and enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.”
Twenty-nine county elementary schools received state funding for fresh fruits and vegetables including, Rosa L. Parks, Edward M. Felegy, Dodge Park, Beacons Heights, Roger Heights, Cool Spring, William H. Hall and Cesar Chavez.
According to the PGCPS communications department, “the $911,200 award is from federal funds and allows 29 elementary schools to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP).”
“It’s a program aimed at increasing fresh fruit and vegetable consumption in elementary schools, thus improving children’s overall health and creating healthier school environments. FFVP is credited with expanding the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience and increasing their consumption of fresh produce,” PGCPS said.
Joan Shorter, the director of food and nutrition services at PGCPS, said the funds for fruit and vegetables is to assist with healthy snacks outside of lunch and breakfast and will introduce students to new types of produce such as “squash, mangoes, asparagus, star fruit, and jicama”
“In many cases, our students are not exposed to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at home,” Shorter said. “The funds we’ve received provide our students with a daily vegetable or fruit snack.”
Prince George’s County received the second most funding, following only Baltimore City Public Schools, which had 95 schools receive funding. Montgomery County had three.
The county has 92 schools receiving funding through MMFA, which is an “alternate breakfast delivery program that provides students with free, in-classroom breakfast,” according to the state department of education.
Shorter said students in participating schools are served breakfast at no cost “regardless of eligibility status.” More than 50,000 students will receive breakfast through the program.
“These funds are not expected. All school meal programs are based on federal and state reimbursement for meals serve,” Shorter said. “We are reimbursed for the number of meals served each month. The more meals, the higher the reimbursement dollars. It is similar to monthly expense report submitted by an employee for reimbursement.”
The MSDE selects schools annually based on available state funds. Prince George’s County has the most schools enrolled. Montgomery County has 78 schools in the program and Baltimore has 65.
“Maryland law requires the selection of schools to represent geographic and socioeconomic balance. Previous participation in MMFA and the priorities of county food and nutrition service directors is also considered in the selection process,” MSDE said.