A record-setting 232 elementary schools across North Carolina have been selected and approved by the State Board of Education to participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for the 2022-23 school year. This is North Carolina’s largest number of schools ever to participate in a given school year. Every school that applied was selected and approved to participate.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) is a federally assisted program providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to children during the school day at eligible elementary schools. The goal of the FFVP is to introduce children to fresh fruits and vegetables, to include new and different varieties, and to increase overall acceptance and consumption of fresh, unprocessed produce among children.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) has been awarded the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) FFVP grant for the 2022-23 school year. This is the 19th year that the great state of North Carolina had the opportunity to participate in the FFVP. North Carolina was among the first states to be awarded the FFVP in the 2004-05 school year.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said the expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant this year will benefit more students across North Carolina.
“The health and academic success of our students are among our top priorities,” Truitt said. “The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grants students in critical need with key nutrients provides from fruits and vegetables to nourish their bodies and minds and allow them to focus in class.”
Federal guidance requires that priority for the FFVP program be given to schools with the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students, as students enrolled in these schools generally have fewer to regularly consume fresh fruit and/or vegetables. To be selected for the FFVP, a school must be an elementary school, representing the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students, be currently approved to participate in the National School Lunch Program, and complete an annual application. The 232 elementary schools selected to participate in meet these criteria, have diverse enrollments, and represent 34 public school units with almost 103,000 students.
The primary goal of the USDA FFVP is to create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices. To achieve this goal, the FFVP offers public schools the opportunity to expand the variety of fruits and vegetables for children, increase their overall fruit and vegetable consumption, and make a difference in children’s diets to impact their present and future health. The fruits and vegetables purchased with FFVP funds must be in addition to those served as part of the school breakfast and lunch programs. On days the FFVP operates, school nutrition staff prepare a fresh fruit or vegetable snack that students receive during the school day mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
Ideally, the more students are exposed to fruit and vegetables, the more they will begin to choose them over less nutritious snack foods. Principals, teachers, and school nutrition personnel in participating schools are encouraged to promote fresh fruit and vegetables to students. Storybooks, activity guides, fact sheets and posters on fruits and vegetables grown in North Carolina and served through School Nutrition Programs are shared with FFVP schools to assist in providing nutrition education to students.
“School meals in North Carolina offer students a variety of fruit and vegetable choices each day, many of them grown in our state,” said Dr. Lynn Harvey, senior director for the Offices of School Nutrition and District Operations at NCDPI. “Often, students are unfamiliar with these fruits and vegetables and do not choose them as part of their meal. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program offers an opportunity to introduce fruits and vegetables to students accompanied by nutrition education, nurturing not only students’ bodies but also healthy habits for a lifetime.”
Questions regarding the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program may be directed to NCDPI, School Nutrition Consultant for Special Programs Zoe McKay-Tucker.
The NCDPI, Office of School Nutrition is the State Agency administering the USDA School Breakfast Program, National School Lunch Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, Special Milk Program, After School Snack Program, Seamless Summer Option, and Summer Food Service Program in North Carolina . NCDPI, School Nutrition works with school food authorities, or public school units, to operate School Nutrition Programs across the state. USDA and NCDPI are equal opportunity providers and employers. Additional information regarding School Nutrition Programs in North Carolina can be found on the NCDPI, School Nutrition website.