Florida Schools Selected for Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FL)
August 13, 2010
More than 130 schools in 26 school districts throughout the Sunshine State have been selected for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) for the 2010-11 academic year. The program, initiated by the 2008 Farm Bill, helps schools provide a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as snack options to students three to five times per week during school hours.
“Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy, well-balanced diet,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “Research shows that a diet rich in nutritious foods has a positive influence on students’ behavior, focus and academic performance, while enhancing their overall health and ability to learn.”
To participate in the program, elementary schools must have at least 50 percent of their student population eligible for free and reduced-priced meals. Schools were selected based on their applications, which were then evaluated using criteria required by federal regulations. Participating schools will receive varying amounts of funding depending on the number of days per week fresh fruits and vegetables are offered. Decisions on what to serve and where to purchase the fresh food will be determined locally.
“It is essential for school children to have access to nutritious food not only for their physical and intellectual development, but to combat obesity and diseases that can arise from poor nutrition,” said State Surgeon General Ana M. Viamonte Ros, M.D., M.P.H. “School interventions have been successful in engaging youth to make healthy choices, and the Department of Health is excited for the students who will benefit from their schools being selected for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.”
Goals of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program are to increase elementary school children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, expose students to a variety of fruits and vegetables, foster healthy eating habits that impact their present and future wellbeing, and help elementary schools create a healthier classroom environment by offering expanded food choices.