Fresh fruits and vegetable program
Fruit and vegetable program provides elementary students access to fresh produce.
One key health message which My Plate recommends is making half of your plate fruits and vegetables. However, Michigan State University Extension says that for many low-income children this dietary recommendation is not possible to achieve. Schools have been shown to be the most effective way of providing students access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) in Michigan is a federally funded nutrition program which provides fruits and vegetables during the school hour to students in selected elementary schools through free and reduced lunch enrollment. FFVP says their goal is to:
- Create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices
- Expand the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience
- Increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption
- Make a difference in children’s diets to impact their present and future health.
Typically FFVP schools receive $50 to $75 per student, for the year. This money is used to purchase fresh produce which is served free to students. This produce snack can only be served to students outside of the regular school breakfast (SBP) and lunch programs (NSLP) schedules. Schools must follow food safety requirements and HACCP guidelines.
The USDA has stated dietary deficiencies may contribute to several types of chronic diseases, which in turn may impose large economic cost on individuals and society. Dietary deficiencies are worse among low-income Americans.
Studies of the FFVP program have shown that when students are served free fruit and vegetables for snacks at school they eat them. This finding reinforces the importance and effectiveness of schools as a setting for providing children access to nutritious foods. The health benefits of eating fruits and vegetable can help decrease the risk of chronic disease are:
1 Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
2 Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.
3 Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
4 Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may lower blood pressure and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
5 Eating foods such as fruits that are lower in calories per-cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
Since FFVP provides fresh produce many low income students are able to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables making it possible to improve or meet the USDA My Plate recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption which will help children adopt healthy food choices.