218 NC schools receive grant to give students more fruits and veggies. See if your school's on the list
North Carolina has received a $4.5 million federal grant to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to nearly 95,000 students in 218 elementary schools across the state.Posted — Updated
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program requires schools with the highest percentage of low-income students be given priority for participation, since students enrolled in those schools often have fewer opportunities to regularly eat fresh fruits or vegetables. Food purchased with the federal funds must be in addition to those served as part of the school breakfast and lunch programs.
The 218 elementary schools selected for this school year are spread among 39 different school districts and include one charter school. Together, they reach 94,237 students.
Guilford County has 35 schools participating, the most of any school system in the state, followed by Robeson County (20 schools) and Cumberland County (15 schools). In the Triangle, Wake County has four schools participating and Durham has eight traditional public schools and one charter school receiving grant money.
Fresh produce will be available to students in a variety of locations on the school campus during the academic day. Principals, teachers and school nutrition personnel in participating schools are encouraged to promote fresh fruit and vegetables to students. Storybooks, activity guides and fact sheets on fruits and vegetables grown in North Carolina and served through School Nutrition Programs are shared with participating schools to assist in providing nutrition education to students.
Since 2004-05, when North Carolina was among the first states to be awarded the federal grant, participation has reached 218 schools, the highest yet for the state.
"School meals in North Carolina offer students a variety of fruit and vegetable choices each day, many of them grown in our state,” Lynn Harvey, director for North Carolina's school nutrition and district operations division, said in a statement. “Often, students are unfamiliar with these fruits and vegetables and do not choose them as part of their meal. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program offers an opportunity to introduce fruits and vegetables to students accompanied by nutrition education, nurturing not only students’ bodies but also healthy habits for a lifetime.”
The primary goal of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is to create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices. To achieve this goal, the program offers school districts the opportunity to expand the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience, increase children’s overall fruit and vegetable consumption, and make a difference in children’s diets to support their present and future health.
"The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant helps us reach students in critical need of the key nutrients that fruits and vegetables provide to help nourish their bodies and minds and allow them to focus in the classroom," State Superintendent Mark Johnson said in a statement.
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