As part of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s continuing efforts to improve nutritional opportunities for school children, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher said that a record-high 210 New Jersey schools are participating in the 2022-2023 school year’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP).
The United States Department of Agriculture has allocated $5,580,688 to New Jersey for this school year’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, to provide fresh produce to approximately 100,000 students in 54 districts throughout 16 counties during the school day. The students also receive nutrition education.
Eighty-four percent of the 210 schools have agreed to link their FFVP to the Jersey Fresh Farm to School Program. The FFVP program has grown from 33 schools in 2008.
The goal of the program is to introduce children to healthy foods, increase their fruit and vegetable consumption, and encourage improved lifelong dietary habits.
“The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program encourages students to taste new offerings and to develop healthy eating habits that benefit them for a lifetime,” Fisher said. “FFVP creates enthusiasm in schools and benefits farmers around the state as local produce is often featured during meals.”
Additional funds will be allocated to schools for connecting their FFVP with the Farm to School Program. The schools must provide Jersey Fresh produce a minimum of two days each month from September to November and from April to June and must verify where the produce was grown.
Some of the criteria used in selecting the schools to participate in FFVP include elementary schools with 50 percent or more of their students eligible for free or reduced-price meals; schools that planned to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables as much as possible; all students having access to the produce offered; and plans to partner with outside organizations to enhance nutrition education.