Children New Jersey New York Nutrition

In late March, 2011 the US Department of Agriculture announced greatly expanded funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for the nation’s schools.

The funds — $158 million for the 2011/2012 school year, a $48 million increase over the previous year’s level – go to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam, to be distributed to qualified schools.

According to a USDA statement quoting Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “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. Every time our kids eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable, they are learning healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.”

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which began as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, has expanded over the course of the intervening years. It complements the separate National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs in achieving the nutrition improvement goals of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (2010).

According to the USDA, the new funding levels mean that between 600,000 and 950,000 elementary school children will be able to have a free snack of a fresh fruit or veggie daily during the upcoming school year.

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