The United States Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program helps supply fresh produce to school children. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that the USDA will provide $158 million to state agencies during the 2011-2012 school year to provide students in select low-income schools with $50 to $75 worth of fresh produce as snacks over the course of a school year.


The USDA sees this is a way of helping children change their eating habits for good. 

"Improving the health and nutrition of our kids is a national imperative and by providing schools with fresh fruits and vegetables that expand their healthy options, we are helping our kids to have a brighter, healthier future," said Vilsack. "Every time our kids eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable, they are learning healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime."
I like that this program is for fresh fruits and vegetables as a snack. This isn’t money that is added to the breakfast or lunch program, and the snack is not to be served at breakfast or lunch. The snack is to be served separately, and the person serving the snack, probably a teacher, is allowed to participate in the snack also.

When you dig down into the fine print of how the program is to be administered, there’s a stipulation that fruit may not be served with a dip, but “in the interest of promoting the consumption of vegetables, the judicious use of low fat and non-fat dips for vegetables in a ‘serving size’ quantity is allowed.”

I love it when there is evidence of common sense being used when writing government guidelines. Most kids will eat fruits as is, but let’s face it, a little ranch dip can help some raw cauliflower go down a whole lot easier for a child who has never seen cauliflower before. I bet the person who wrote that is a parent.

So there you have it. Kids will get fresh produce as a snack and common sense is being used. Nice use of our tax money, don’t you think? 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

USDA to put more fruits and vegetables in school
Low-income elementary schools get an influx of $158 million for healthy snacks.