September , 2018

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$5.18 Million Awarded for the 2014-15 School Year

SPRINGFIELD, IL —Students from Cairo to Chicago will have access to free fruits and vegetables this school year through a federal program that aims to make these food groups part of student’s daily diet for life. More than 200 schools and tens of thousands of students will participate in the federally-funded Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) that gives students access to fruits and vegetables outside lunch time and emphasizes healthy habits.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program earmarks funds to states who then distribute to schools already participating in the USDA’s National School Lunch Program. The goal is to provide free fresh fruits and vegetables to students outside of regular school meals. The program targets elementary schools with the highest enrollment in the free and reduced-price National School Lunch Program. Illinois received $5.18 million to distribute through this school year, which will provide about $50 in fruit and vegetables per student in the participating schools. This is the sixth year the Illinois State Board of Education has administered the program.

“Fifty dollars per student in fruits and vegetables for the year may not seem like much but principals and teachers are extremely creative in making their dollars work over the course of a school year,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “They know that nutrition is truly an essential part of education and this program helps children build good habits for life.”

In the last five school years, Illinois has seen FFVP funds increase steadily from $3.34 million in 2010-11 to this year’s $5.18 million. ISBE approved 218 participating schools, including 13 in Springfield Public Schools District 186, to participate in the program this school year. Statewide, more than 100,000 children are expected to have access to these healthy snacks during the school day.

“We’re excited to bring this program to our schools once again during the 2014-2015 school year,” said Springfield District 186 Superintendent Jennifer Gill. “We know that the program will give students access to eat fresh fruits and vegetables that may not be included in their daily meals. We realize that our students will be given an opportunity to maximize healthy choices by providing nutritive calories such as fresh fruits and vegetables along with opportunities to learn about healthy eating habits.”

Some of the other schools and districts participating in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program during the 2014-15 school year include those from Chicago, Rockford, East St. Louis, Bloomington and Mount Vernon. A complete list of participating schools is available on ISBE website at http://www.isbe.net/nutrition/PDF/ffvp-awardees14-15.pdf.

The recipients for the next school year represent 55 different sponsors, which include districts from across the state, charter schools, private schools, and the Illinois Department of Human Services. IDHS is the sponsor for the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired and the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville.

FFVP provides all students in participating schools access to a variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables at least twice a week. It allows schools to make available the additional produce anytime during the regular school day, except during breakfast and lunch. For example, some schools select a fruit or vegetable of the day to entice students to try produce they might otherwise not have access to. Worksheets and fact sheets can accompany produce to teach students about the nutritious fruits and vegetables they are consuming.

The USDA piloted the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in 2002 and it was expanded to include all states for the 2008-09 school year. Each school will be reimbursed on a monthly basis for allowable expenses up to the school’s total awarded amount.

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