Some Tennessee students will get an extra dose of fruits and vegetables during the 2013-14 school year. The state has been awarded $3.3 million in federal funds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to schools with the highest rates of students participating in free and reduced lunch. The state will allocate funds to 159 schools in 29 districts that applied to take part in this program.
Students at participating schools will receive a fresh fruit or vegetable during the school day, at some point other than a regular meal. The program allows students to sample fresh produce they might not otherwise be able to access. Students could snack on anything from fresh broccoli and peppers to cauliflower and peaches.
“We see students pick up a kiwi or blood orange with wonder,” said Sarah White, Tennessee’s director of school nutrition. “Those same students then go home and tell their parents about the fresh fruit or vegetable they tried at school. This program not only exposes students to fresh food; it exposes entire families.”
Schools will be awarded $50 per child based on enrollment to provide this produce over the course of the school year. Each school can decide when and where to deliver this produce to students.
The highest concentration of schools receiving money for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program are in Shelby County, where 69 schools will receive a portion of the grant, and Davidson County, where 19 schools will participate. Other participating schools are in districts across the state.
The program is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture and combats childhood obesity by helping children learn healthy eating habits. The Fruits and Vegetable Program began nationally in 2002 with only four states piloting the program, and is now in select schools in all 50 states.
For more information, contact Kelli Gauthier at 615 532-7817 or Kelli.Gauthier@tn.gov.