For Immediate Release
July 16, 2012
Schools Promote Healthy Eating Habits Through Expanded Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
Schools statewide receive a total of $4.9 million to increase fruit and vegetable offerings; More students have access to healthy eating choices
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today that 267 schools in Illinois will participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) during the 2012-13 school year. The schools, both public and private that already participate in the National School Lunch Program, will share equally in more than $4.9 million, up from last year’s grant amount of $4.7 million that served 215 schools.
“This is a valuable federal program that improves access to great fruits and vegetables,” said Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “This program helps children from low-income families feed their minds and bodies with good nutrition and promotes healthy habits for life.”
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program requires participating schools to allocate between $50 to $75 per enrolled student, with the majority of those funds being spent on fresh produce. Program funding runs through June 30, 2013.
FFVP provides all students in participating schools access to a variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables at least twice a week. It allows schools to make available the additional produce anytime during the regular school day, except during breakfast and lunch.
The goal is to expose students to lifelong healthy eating habits. For example, schools can incorporate nutrition education into numerous daily classroom activities such as math, health, geography and science, by developing lesson plans involving fruits and vegetables. Some schools have initiated a “Vegetable of the Day” to entice students to try produce they might otherwise not have access to and increase nutrition education efforts.
Marquardt School District 15, based in Glendale Heights, first participated in the program in 2008 and has since received grants for three of its four elementary schools where students are exposed to common fruits and vegetables as well as more exotic treats such as kiwi, starfruit and jicama. Fruits and vegetables are delivered to classroom three times a week, along with detailed nutritional information, and the district also organizes monthly fruit and vegetable bars and special events such as Farmer’s Markets.
“The program has been wonderful,” said Dr. Loren May, District 15 Superintendent. “We’ve seen excitement over fruits and vegetables. We’ve also seen evidence of increased fruit and vegetable consumption in our regular lunch program which is evidence to us that the program is working.”
The USDA first piloted the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in 2002 and it was expanded to include all states for the 2008-09 school year. More than 400 schools statewide applied for the 2012-13 grant. Each school will be reimbursed on a monthly basis for allowable expenses up to the school’s total awarded amount. The fresh produce purchased under this program cannot be used to replace fruits or vegetables already being served to students at breakfast or lunch.
The complete list of 267 schools in the Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Program as well as a map of the selected schools is online at: http://www.isbe.net/nutrition/htmls/ffv_program_awards1213.htm.