Access to proper nutrition is just one of the many problems facing numerous families all over the country. For children, a lack of access to nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables can have a hugely negative impact on their development. The federal government has granted North Carolina $4.5 million in federal funds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables in over 218 schools around North Carolina. This funding will provide fresh fruits and vegetables to nearly 95,000 students. The fresh produce being provided must be in addition to the school’s current breakfast and lunch programs, and in holding with the USDA’s (U.S Department of Agriculture) requirements. Priority will be given to those schools in the lowest-income communities.
Over 218 schools will qualify for this additional programming, including 35 from Guilford County, 15 from Cumberland County, 20 from Robenson County, 4 from Wake County, and 9 schools in Durham. This grant program has been ongoing since the 2004-2005 school year, and North Carolina was one of the first states to become eligible for federal funds.
Some elements of the program: Fresh fruit and vegetables will be available throughout the school day for students to consume, and teachers and administrators will be expected to expose the students to the benefits of nutritional eating and will be provided with storybooks, activity guides, and fact sheets on the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. These guidelines will be a way to inform students on all of the fruits and vegetables grown in North Carolina and served through school nutrition services. The Fruit and Vegetable Program and all its features are meant to serve as a guide map for developing healthy habits for students, as well as providing essential vitamins and minerals essential for healthy development.
The program itself has also been seen as a tool to battle childhood obesity, which is a growing problem throughout the United States. According to the USDA’s website: The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) is an important tool in our efforts to combat childhood obesity. The program has been successful in introducing elementary school children to a variety of produce that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to sample.”
To see if a school is eligible to participate in this program, interested parties can go to the Public Schools of North Carolina Website, and download a list of schools participating in the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program or check GrantWatch for any current grants available for assistance.