Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today announced that 60 schools have been chosen to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for the 2009-2010 school year.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) exposes school children to new, healthier foods and increases their fruit and vegetable consumption, ultimately leading to improved lifelong dietary habits.
“Thousands of New Jersey students will be able to consume fresh fruits and vegetables – some purchased from our state’s farmers – in school on a regular basis starting in the fall, teaching the children about the good taste and health benefits of fresh produce,” said Secretary Fisher. “This program would not have come to New Jersey if not for the efforts of our state’s Congressional Delegation, who recognized the importance of including fresh fruits and vegetables in a child’s diet.”
The 2008-2009 school year is the first year New Jersey participated in the FFVP. The Department provided funding for 33 schools to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to students on a regular basis. The federal Farm Bill, which became law in June of 2008, expanded what had been a pilot program in a few states to include all 50 states.
Some of the criteria used in making the selections included: schools needed to be elementary schools and have 50 percent or more of their students eligible for free or reduced price meals; schools planned to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables as much as possible; the program would be well-publicized and all students would have access to the produce offered; and schools planned to partner with outside organizations to enhance nutrition education.
Increased funding has allowed the Department to expand the program so that more school children can benefit next year. The participating schools come from 18 different counties in New Jersey. Click here to view a list of the participating schools for 2009-2010.