The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is changing the way children see fruits and vegetables in schools by offering a competitive fresh fruit and vegetable program grant that provides healthy snacks along with nutrition lessons.
The USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program requires incorporating nutritional lessons while offering a variety of fresh produce in school.
The focus of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) is to bring free, fresh produce into the school for distribution to children. The FFVP shows children that fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy and tasty alternatives to snacks high in fat, sugar or salt.
For too many children, the produce they see in school might be their first exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables, and the only ones they see that day. The FFVP introduces school children to new and different fresh fruits and vegetables, like kiwi, starfruit, pomegranate, rutabaga and kohlrabi — a variety of produce that they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to sample.
Fruits and vegetables are good low‐calorie, low‐fat sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
The Lessons of Fresh Food
While the program is an effective and creative way of introducing fresh fruits and vegetables as healthy snack options, it also encourages schools to develop partnerships at the state and local level for support in implementing and operating the program (i.e. community food banks).
The goals of the FFVP are:
- Create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices
- Expand the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience
- Increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption
- Make a difference in children’s diets to impact their present and future health.
Many schools within the program serve fruits and vegetables multiple times during the school day so students have more access to fruits and vegetables.