Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program: Increases Children’s Consumption

United Fresh welcomes the evaluation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), which clearly demonstrates that it increases children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, introduces children to a wide variety of new fruits and vegetables, and is very popular with schools, parents and students.

The independent evaluation released by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service and Abt Associates demonstrates the effectiveness of the FFVP as a public health intervention that positively impacts children’s attitudes and behaviors towards fresh fruits and vegetables.

“We are thrilled that this evaluation confirms what we have seen in dozens of FFVP schools all over the country in the last 10 years. Schools officials, parents and children always tell us how much they like the FFVP and that it is making a positive difference in children’s lives,” says Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition & health. “Now we have the evidence that the FFVP, which serves more than 4 million low-income elementary school students every day, is effective and increases their fruit and vegetable consumption at school and at home.”

Key Findings:

  • Students increased their fruit and vegetable consumption by 15% when FFVP offered at school.
  • The increased fruit and vegetable consumption has especially significant public health benefits since these low-income children have the lowest fruit and vegetable intake and are at risk for poor health outcomes.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetable snacks are served 3-5 times per week in 82% of FFVP schools.
  • The FFVP successfully introduces students to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, from apples, bananas, oranges, carrots, and broccoli to mangoes, pineapples, cauliflower, and snow peas.
  • Almost all students tried the fruit and vegetable snacks and a substantial majority ate most or all of snacks provided.
  • The increase in fruit and vegetable consumption through the program doesn’t appear to substantially increase calories in children’s diets.
  • Students consumed more vitamins A and C, beta carotene and fiber.
  • 90% of FFVP schools provided nutrition education 2.5 times per week.
  • 85% of school principals, teachers, foodservice directors, and parents had a very positive opinion of FFVP and want it to continue in their schools.
  • 97% of students want FFVP to continue in their school.
  • Parents felt that FFVP influenced their child to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables at school and at home.

The FFVP has been one of United Fresh Produce Association’s top public policy priorities for the last decade – it’s a win for children, schools, public health and produce. The program was first publicly announced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) at United’s 2001 Washington Public Policy Conference, spearheaded by United Fresh with Sen. Harkin’s ongoing leadership, and expanded nationwide in the 2008 Farm Bill. Its goal is to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among students in the nation’s poorest elementary schools by providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to students outside of regular school meals. Today, FFVP benefits more than 4 million low-income elementary students in 7,400 schools nationwide with a budget of $163.5 million for the 2012-2013 school year.

The evaluation was conducted by Abt Associates in conjunction with the Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health at the University of California, Berkeley during the 2010-2011 school year and included a representative sample of 5,560 elementary school students in 252 schools nationwide.

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