By Jeff Noble / staff writer
Students in 10 elementary schools in the Tri-County area are enjoying fresh produce during their school day, thanks to the federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
Seven of the schools are in Knox County, while the other three are in Whitley County.
The Knox County elementary schools involved in the program are Lynn Camp, Jesse D. Lay, Dewitt, Flat Lick, G. R. Hampton, Girdler and Central Elementary.
Whitley North, Whitley East and Pleasant View Elementary are the three schools in Whitley County that are participating.
The program is carried out by the USDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, or FFVP, provides all children in the participating schools a variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables while they’re in school.
Lynn Camp Elementary’s principal, Anthony Pennington, said Friday, “Anything we can do to improve nutrition and give our kids healthier choices is great. It gives the children a chance not only to eat healthier, but to try different fresh fruits and vegetables. It helps them, it helps us, and it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
In an email Friday, Knox County Public School’s public relations director Frank Shelton commented, “We are pleased that all seven of our elementary schools will be able to participate in the fresh fruits and vegetables program this school year. We have had great success with the program in the past, and look forward to continuing it this year. … We hope the families extend this program into their own home and kitchens by making fruits and vegetables a part of meal time.”
The Kentucky Department of Education noted there are four goals of the program — creating healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices, increasing children’s fruit and vegetable consumption, expanding the variety of fruits and vegetables they eat and experience, and making a difference in their diets to improve the present and future health of those children.
In a news release from Frankfort, KDE spokesperson Nancy Rodriguez said the program is a creative and effective way of introducing fresh fruits and vegetables as healthy snack options. In addition, the FFVP encourages community partnerships to support those schools when they offer free fruit and vegetables to children during the school day.
“It is an eye-opening experience to see students’ reactions when you introduce them to a new fruit or vegetable for the first time. Thanks to this program, we have introduced students to new foods and encouraged healthier choices for snacks and at meal time. Fruits and vegetables that we once frowned upon in school are returning to popularity thanks to the program,” Shelton pointed out.
The 10 Tri-County schools were among 134 elementary schools statewide who were chosen for the program for this school year. Nearly 56,000 students in Kentucky are involved in the FFVP program.
“In many of today’s schools, lunchtime for some students occurs before 11 a.m. Having the added snack in their day helps increase their focus during the afternoon and provides added energy for any after school activities that they participate in,” said Shelton.
Selection of those schools were based upon submitted applications from elementary schools operating the National School Lunch Program, and who have 50 percent or more of the students eligible for free-and reduced-price meals. The KDE notes top priority was given to schools with the highest percentage of free-and reduced-priced eligible students.
For this school year, Kentucky received $2.78 million in FFVP funding. The ten schools in our region involved will receive funds to operate the program based on approximately $50 per student enrolled, as reported in October 2012.
10 Tri-County schools participate in USDA program
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