Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced that 117 Idaho elementary schools are being awarded Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grants to fund healthy and nutritious snacks within the school day.
“The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is a voluntary program that many Idaho schools use each year to provide more nutritious options to students and integrate in the classroom to create engaging lessons about history, geography, writing or other critical subject areas,” Superintendent Luna said.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is part of a federal initiative by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow schools the opportunity to offer children samples of fruits and vegetables that they would not usually consume. The goal of the program is to give students the opportunity to try more fruits and vegetables, in addition to what is offered in the National School Lunch Program.
The 117 Idaho schools awarded grants this year will use the funding to provide students with a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at no charge. This is an effective and creative way of introducing fresh fruits and vegetables as healthy snack options. Schools receive reimbursement for providing the fresh fruits and vegetables to all students within the school day, but at a different time than the school meal programs operate.
Through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, many schools offer mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks to students. The healthy snacks are delivered to the classroom, distributed out in the cafeteria or in hallways. Students may be given the opportunity to try Idaho grown fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, corn, cucumbers, grapes, peaches, pears, pluots, pumpkins, tomatoes, and zucchini. Students may also get to try fruits and vegetables that they recognize, but in a different form. For example, many children may not have eaten fresh corn or pineapple spears. Teachers often incorporate these opportunities into a classroom lesson about healthy eating, geography, or having students write about their experiences.
Schools were awarded the grants through a competitive application process. The grant funding for these schools will begin July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015.
For a list of schools that were awarded the grant or more information about Child Nutrition Programs at the Idaho State Department of Education, please visit http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/cnp/.