Twin Rivers Nutrition Services Department has been awarded six Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) grants. The elementary schools that will receive the benefits of the grant for this school year are: Northwood, Fairbanks, Strauch, Johnson, Woodridge, and Castori. The FFVP provides students with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the school day and is a creative way of introducing fresh fruits and vegetables as a healthy snack option.
The goal of the FFVP is to:
- Create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices
- Expand the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience
- Increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption
- Make a difference in children’s diets to impact their present and future health
The grant enables school children to try a variety of produce that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to sample. The fresh fruits and vegetables must be provided separately from the lunch or breakfast meal and in one or more areas of the school during the school day.
Only elementary schools are eligible for the FFVP grant. To be eligible, the district must participate in the National School Lunch Program and be in good standing. In addition, fifty percent or more of the students at that site must be eligible for free/reduced-price meals.
This program was highly successful since it began as a state pilot program in 2005 at the former Aero Haven campus. In 2010, Northwood was awarded the grant and in March of 2011, North Avenue, Fairbanks and Woodridge were offered the grant. Last year there were only five grants awarded in the County of Sacramento, and all five were awarded to Twin Rivers schools.
In 2010, Congress mandated that the FFVP be evaluated nationwide so in April of 2011, an evaluator contracted by the United Stated Department of Agriculture visited Northwood and conducted an extensive evaluation of the program. The evaluator stated that of all of the programs she has evaluated across the country, Northwood was by far the best.
This program is seen as an important catalyst for change in our efforts to combat childhood obesity by helping children learn more healthful eating habits.