Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Lawrence-Lawson awarded Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant
From apples to zucchini with plenty of variety in between, students in 178 Wisconsin 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. Snacks are offered to all children in the school. Grants to schools are expected to reach 59,551 Wisconsin students.
Lawrence-Lawson Elementary School in the Sparta Area School District received $12,500 as a new recipient.
"Programs like the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program help ensure that our low socioeconomic students have access to additional nutrition during the school day," said Cindy Thesing, director of nutrition services for the Sparta Area School District "The staff at Lawrence-Lawson has embraced the program and is ensuring all children are able to partake, and the adults are being great role models."
During the 2011-12 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, participating Wisconsin schools averaged 100 snack days during the school year. Special activities included a farmer’s market, build your own salad day, Wisconsin apple taste test, and health and wellness fairs. In previous years, 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.
“Offering children a nutritious snack that builds healthy eating habits is a double win for our schools and families,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “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.”
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. The program’s goal is to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among students in the nation’s poorest elementary schools by providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to students. The poverty level in participating state schools and school districts is more than 56 percent based on free and reduced-price school meal data. Wisconsin has been part of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program since 2006 when 25 schools participated.