For the second year in a row, The Varnett Public School is serving students fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a nationwide campaign to improve nutrition and combat childhood obesity.
“We’re trying to introduce kids to different kinds of fruits and vegetables they otherwise may not have,” said LaTonja Lacey, the district’s food service manager.
Varnett this year was awarded about $80,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture to participate in the program. Teachers and students from Pre-K through 5th grade are served fruit and vegetables on Tuesdays and Thursdays during PE or break time, Ms. Lacey said.
According to a USDA handbook, the goal of the fresh fruit and vegetable program is to:
--Create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices.
--Expand the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience.
--Make a difference in children’s diets to impact their present and future health.
The program has also been touted as a catalyst for change in efforts to combat childhood obesity.
The fresh fruit at Varnett include Fugi apples, seedless red grapes, peaches, oranges, strawberries and plums. Vegetables include broccoli, cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, green and yellow pepper, squash and tomatoes.
“This is about health and fitness,” said Ms. Lacey, who credited Superintendent M. Annette Cluff for initiating the program
For more information on the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program go to http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/ffvp