When it comes to promoting fruits and vegetables in school settings, challenges and opportunities abound in equal measure. Chatom Elementary School is getting a little help to promote eating more of the earth’s bounty, as Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that Chatom was among 342 schools that will share $11.1 million in federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program funds for this upcoming school year.
“Students who don’t have enough nutritious food to eat can have a tough time succeeding in school,” Torlakson said. “As part of my Team California for Healthy Kids initiative, we are working to help improve their health and physical fitness—which in turn is linked to academic success. Not only will these grants provide fresh fruits and vegetables to elementary school kids, they will also help the local economy by encouraging schools to buy produce from local farmers.”
The federal FFVP offers competitive grants to eligible elementary school sites. The program is designed to provide students with a variety of free fresh fruit and vegetable snacks throughout the school day as a supplement to the school breakfast and lunch programs.
Chatom’s federal grant will be given in two separate allocations in the amounts of $2,345 for the month of September and $23,585 for the rest of the school year.
“We will spend approximately 70 percent of the FFVP grant solely on fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Director of Food Services Program for Chatom Elementary School Tania Courtney. “With this grant we are going to be given the opportunity to introduce new fruits and vegetables to children that they may not have been exposed before. We are also going to make the learning process about nutrition as fun and engaging as possible by inviting our kids to the cafeteria and see how we prepare our fruits and vegetables.”
FFVP is also designed to teach students about good nutrition. Recipients are encouraged to form partnerships with the fruit and vegetable industry and groups that promote children’s health to support their efforts.
Upon receipt of a FFVP grant, schools must provide a free fresh fruit or vegetable snack during the school day at least three times per week to all enrolled students.
“We will be giving snacks to our kids daily and aside from the nutrition information, we will have them complete a survey to see what fruits and vegetables they like the most,” added Courtney.