Dignity Health

Local Schools Win Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grants


by Vaun Thygerson
Staff writer and mother of three

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Local students will receive an extra helping of fresh fruits and vegetables this school year thanks to a Federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) grant.  State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson recently announced the 342 schools in California that will share $11.1 million for this initiative.

The federal FFVP offers competitive grants to eligible elementary school sites. The program is designed to provide students with a variety of free fresh fruit and vegetable snacks throughout the school day as a supplement to the school breakfast and lunch programs, and teach students about good nutrition. Recipients are encouraged to form partnerships with the fruit and vegetable industry and groups that promote children’s Health to support their efforts.

“I am proud of our school districts’ commitment to serving healthy fruits and vegetables to students as one strategy for improved learning,” says Kern County Superintendent of Schools Christine Lizardi Frazier.  “Kern County is an agricultural community that values our farmers, and this partnership between schools and the local agriculture industry is exciting!”

Eligible applicants include elementary schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program and have 50 percent or more of their students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Applicants are funded based upon the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, with priority given to the highest percentage. This year, the California Department of Education (CDE) was able to fund schools that had 85.28 percent or more eligible students. Upon receipt of a FFVP grant, schools must provide a free fresh fruit or vegetable snack during the school day at least three times per week to all enrolled students.

Bakersfield City School District will receive 11 grant awards, which will allow them to reach approximately one-fourth of their district’s students with added fruits and vegetables and nutrition Education, says Brenda Robinson, Director of Food Services for Bakersfield City School District.

Some students may not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables at home and this grant provides an opportunity for them to learn about new items.  “The intimate setting of the classroom allows students to experience the product and learn about the benefits of the items,” she says.  “The knowledge gained and the taste test results in a more positive acceptance of the product on the lunch line.”

“During our pilot program at Hort Elementary School, which won the Healthier US Challenge Gold Award of Distinction, we found a direct connection between the educational benefits gained by providing the product in the classroom and how it connected the children to the items served for breakfast and lunch,” says Robinson.  “For students who may skip breakfast, this added fruit/vegetable helped alleviate hunger pains and reduced the number of trips to the nurse.  However, the single best reason to be excited is the fact that our students need this product and they are excited about the program.”

Funding is given in two allocations. The first was on July 1, 2012, and the second will be on October 1, 2012. Grant funding was allocated at $55 per student and ranges from $2,750 to $66,000 per school. The list of grantees is attached and listed on the CDE Web page at www.cde.ca.gov.

Torlakson’s Team California for Healthy Kids initiative is designed to promote healthy eating and physical activity every day. Research shows a clear connection between Health, learning, and attendance. Healthy children are more successful academically, miss fewer days of school, are more attentive and well-behaved, and are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college.

The CDE is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.  For more information, please visit the CDE Web site at http://www.cde.ca.gov or by mobile device at http://

m.cde.ca.gov/. You may also follow Superintendent Torlakson on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/TorlaksonSSPI and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CAEducation.

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Tags: Education, Featured Story, Health

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