The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has awarded $3,288,950 in federal funds to selected Maryland elementary schools in order to help children build lifelong healthy eating habits.
According to a press release:
The funds, made available by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), will provide fresh fruits and vegetables to students enrolled in participating schools statewide. This year, MSDE is providing funds to 134 schools. Maryland school participation data can be found here.
The FFVP targets schools with a high percentage of low-income students who often have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Students are provided a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, at no charge, outside the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. The FFVP teaches students that fresh produce can be a healthy and delicious snack. Additionally, the program provides an opportunity for teachers and school administrators to provide experiential nutrition education.
One of the goals of the program is to act as a catalyst for change by teaching students to accept and enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The produce served through the program often includes fruits and vegetables that may not be available to children living in low-income communities, including kiwi, mangos, mushrooms, and asparagus.
A national study of the program conducted by Abt Associates found that students participating in the FFVP consumed significantly more fruits and vegetables than their peers. Schools participating in the program were also more likely to offer regular nutrition education to students.
Read the full press release for more information.