The United Fresh Produce Association applauds news from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announcing $158 million in funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) for next school year. The goal of the program is to provide a free fruit or vegetable snack to elementary school students and with the increase in funding, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be able to serve an expanded number of schools and students.

The announcement is particularly impactful for United Fresh given the association’s work to secure the more than $1.2 billion in funding allocated for the program in the 2008 farm bill.

"This expansion in funding is such a huge win for kids across the country,” said United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra. “The additional monies will increase the number of elementary school students that receive a fresh fruit or vegetable snack at school each day to approximately 4 million, which is just amazing. This program provides exposure to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, expanding kids’ horizons and increasing their daily consumption of healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables.”

United Fresh has been at the forefront of the drive for fresh fruit and vegetables in school meals and all child nutrition programs, and was instrumental in securing the funding for the nationwide expansion and implementation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program through the 2008 farm bill.

In addition to FFVP, United Fresh has worked to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables offered in meals served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs; advocated the nationwide availability of fruit and vegetable vouchers in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); and most recently, led the charge on Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, a national initiative to provide 6000 salad bars to schools across the country, which supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative goal of curbing childhood obesity within a generation.

“Kids love the fresh fruit and vegetable snacks that they receive every day through FFVP,” added DiSogra. “This program is very popular. It’s a hit with the kids, with the parents and with the schools, and it’s having an undeniably positive effect not only on the way kids eat at school but also on their eating habits at home.”