Picture a child tasting a tangy tomato or sweet strawberry, perhaps for the first time. Thanks to a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 100,000 students in dozens of North Carolina elementary schools will have the chance to taste fresh produce snacks and learn about fruits and vegetables, from apples to zucchini and even paw paws – many of which are grown in our state.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has been awarded a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) grant for the 2019-20 school year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since 2004-05, when North Carolina was among the first states to be awarded a FFVP grant, participation has reached 218 schools, the highest yet for the state.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson said he is pleased the expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant this year offers the opportunity to reach more students across North Carolina.
"Safety, success, and well-being are among our top priorities," Johnson said. "The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant helps us reach students in critical need of the key nutrients that fruits and vegetables provide to help nourish their bodies and minds and allow them to focus in the classroom."
The USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant will provide over $4.5 million to NCDPI to be distributed to selected schools throughout the state. Federal guidelines require schools with the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students be given priority for participation in the FFVP, since students enrolled in these schools often have fewer opportunities to regularly eat fresh fruit or vegetables. Selection for participation in the program is limited to elementary schools that represent the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students, are currently approved to participate in the National School Lunch Program, and that complete an annual application. The 218 elementary schools selected for this school year are diverse, spread among 39 different school districts and include one charter school. Together, they reach 94,237 students.
The primary goal of the USDA FFVP is to create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices. To achieve this goal, the FFVP offers school districts the opportunity to expand the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience, increase children’s overall fruit and vegetable consumption, and make a difference in children’s diets to support their present and future health. The fruits and vegetables purchased with FFVP funds must be in addition to those served as part of the school breakfast and lunch programs.
Fresh produce will be available to students in a variety of locations on the school campus during the academic day. Ideally, the more students are exposed to fruit and vegetables, the more they will begin to choose them over less nutritious snack foods. Principals, teachers and school nutrition personnel in participating schools are encouraged to promote fresh fruit and vegetables to students. Storybooks, activity guides and fact sheets on fruits and vegetables grown in North Carolina and served through School Nutrition Programs are shared with FFVP schools to assist in providing nutrition education to students.
"School meals in North Carolina offer students a variety of fruit and vegetable choices each day, many of them grown in our state," said Dr. Lynn Harvey, director for the School Nutrition and District Operations Division at NCDPI. "Often, students are unfamiliar with these fruits and vegetables and do not choose them as part of their meal. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program offers an opportunity to introduce fruits and vegetables to students accompanied by nutrition education, nurturing not only students’ bodies but also healthy habits for a lifetime."
Questions regarding the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program may be directed to NCDPI School Nutrition Services, School Nutrition Consultant for Special Programs Zoe McKay-Tucker.
See a list of all 218 schools here.
The NCDPI, School Nutrition Division is the State Agency administering the USDA School Breakfast Program, National School Lunch Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, Special Milk Program, After School Snack Program, Seamless Summer Option, and Summer Food Service Program in North Carolina. NCDPI, School Nutrition works with school food authorities, or local education agencies, to operate School Nutrition Programs across the state. USDA and NCDPI are equal opportunity providers and employers. Additional information regarding School Nutrition Programs in North Carolina can be found on the NCDPI, School Nutrition website.
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (AD-3027) available online and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:
* mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
* fax: (202) 690-7442; or