Freedom Area Middle School gets awarded grant for cafeteria appliances

Marissa Lammie, Staff Writer

On Jan 28. the Freedom Area Middle School was awarded a grant of $7,150 to get a new conventional oven. This grant was awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to the middle school.
The United States Department of Agriculture allowed the PDE to select and award $925,000 worth of grants to schools across the state. The PDE approved the grant requests of 72 different schools, with Freedom Area Middle School being one of them.
The Freedom Area School District applied for three grants — one for each of the schools. The elementary school applied to get a cooler, the middle school applied to get conventional ovens and the high school applied for new coolers and warmers that would be placed behind the serving lines. Of those grants that were applied for, only the middle school grant got approved. That grant happened to go towards the conventional ovens.
The PDE awarded the grant to the middle school for the work to be done in their cafeteria. The grant has to be used for the purpose that it was originally applied for, as per the guidelines. This means that if the school applied for conventional ovens, then they would need to use it for that and not for anything else.
Since the PDE has not released the money to the school, no work has been completed yet. The PDE needs to approve of this grant before any work can be done. Then the school will be able to get the ovens and install them. There is currently no set date on when the PDE will approve this as well as when these ovens would be installed.
The reasoning behind applying for the grant came from Randy Walker, who serves as the Food Service Director for the school district. The ovens that are currently at the middle school are very old. Due to the ovens being rather old, Walker decided that was what needed to be replaced most urgently. Thus, Walker applied for the grant to get the new ovens that the middle school desperately needed.
“The grants are available to K-12 Food Service Departments and are posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture website. Food Directors and Superintendents typically receive emails letting them know about upcoming grant opportunities. Every individual school could apply for this particular equipment grant. I submitted a total of three grants for Freedom School District, one for each location. A big factor is free/reduced percentage of the particular school, but there are other factors as well, such as feasibility of the grant, how long it’s been since the school received the grant, etc.”
On Feb. 6, the school board recognized Walker at their meeting. They congratulated him and the school for this grant. They announced what the grant was, as well as what it was going to be used for.