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USDA Readies Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Purchases for Elementary Schools


WASHINGTON.- Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer today announced that $49 million will be provided in fresh fruits and vegetables for elementary school children during the school day. The 2008 farm bill amended the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act by adding section 19, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. This new section replaces a previous program in a limited number of states, and expands fresh fruits and vegetables to selected schools in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

“Fresh produce for children at school gives them an early start on healthy eating habits that can stay with them after school, and throughout their lives,” said Schafer. “This program will help educate students about the importance of good nutrition, including eating fresh fruit and vegetables. We know that far too many young people are struggling with being overweight and even obese. Now, more than ever, children need our help in building good eating habits so they can have a long and healthy life.”

All students in participating schools receive fresh fruits and vegetables at no cost where a high proportion of children are eligible to receive free- or reduced-price school meals. In addition to more choice, their routines may grow to add fruits and vegetables into their daily meal choices outside of school.

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is targeted to students in the neediest elementary schools in each state. Schools may apply for funding to operate this program on an annual basis. The Farm Bill makes available $40 million during the upcoming school years: 2008-2009, $65 million for 2009-2010, $101 million for 2010-2011, and $150 million for 2011-2012. Subsequent yearly funding is indexed for inflation. State funding levels are allocated through a formula and will be available October 1, 2008. Schools are encouraged to implement the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in partnership with non-federal organizations. In addition to the money made available by the Farm Bill, approximately $9 million was made available in the 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 110-161) for distribution to States in support of school year 2008-2009 activity.


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