From apples to zucchini with plenty of variety in between, several area schools will be eating more fresh fruits and vegetables during the school day thanks to a federal grant program.
Wisconsin’s share of the $150 million available nationwide through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is just over $3 million. The grant provides $50 per student for schools to offer at minimum three snacks per week outside of the School Breakfast and National School Lunch programs.
Grants are expected to reach 59,551 Wisconsin students in more than 178 schools, included several in the northwoods. Those schools include: Florence Elementary, Lac Du Flambeau Elementary, and GD Jones Elementary in Wausau. The schools are chosen based on free and reduced meal data.
State Superintendent Tony Evers says the program is beneficial two-fold, “Fewer children will hit the hunger slump that pulls their attention away from their school lessons, and more kids will sample foods they may not otherwise encounter, building a foundation for healthier food choices beyond this grant program.”
Schools have incorporated “nutrition fun facts” into morning announcements, displayed posters to promote healthy snacking, and integrated lessons on healthy eating and behavior into snack time.
Because children from low-income families tend to have fewer nutritional options and less exposure to fresh produce, the USDA developed the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in 2002.