SACRAMENTO, March 28, 2011 – CDFA Secretary Karen Ross is applauding an announcement by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that assistance will be expanded to state agencies working with schools operating USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in the 2011/2012 school year. The program operates in selected low-income elementary schools in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. States then select schools to participate based on criteria in the law, including the requirement that each student receives between $50 and $75 worth of fresh produce over the school year. California will receive more than $10 million for a program administered by the Department of Education.
“Finding ways to give every child access to healthy food is critical,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is a huge step across the ‘food desert’ that impacts many low-income families. I’m grateful to Secretary Vilsack for his personal commitment to a cause that means so much to me, and I’d like to thank the Department of Education for the great work it does helping to provide our school children with healthy meals.”
Depending on enrollment and the allotment spent on each child, USDA estimates the expanded assistance could help schools serve an additional 600,000 to 950,000 students in school year 2011-2012.
In January, USDA published a proposed rule to update the nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, signed into law by President Barack Obama. The proposed rule, based on the latest science, will make the first major improvement to the nutritional quality of school meals in 15 years, and is an important component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to solve the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation. The standards will significantly increase fruit and vegetables provided at lunch and for the first time, both fruits and vegetables will be served daily at program school across the country.
For more information about the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, please visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/ffvp/.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814