DATE: October 2, 2017
Vero Beach, FL, October 2, 2017– The School District of Indian River County was awarded a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant for two of its qualifying district schools. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) is a national initiative brought about by the USDA Department of Food and Nutrition Service along with state agencies to provide school children, who may not otherwise have the opportunity to sample them, with a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Elementary schools with the highest free and reduced lunch enrollment are the focus of the program.
Elizabeth Alfaro, Nutrition Specialist for the School District of Indian River County, stated, “It is a team effort between the Food and Nutrition Services main office, the cafeteria staff, and our produce distributor. We are given the best quality of produce each week and the staff provides the best customer service to the students. None of these would be here without the other.”
This Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is a statewide, highly sought, and competitive program that awards schools based on need. Every year, the Food and Nutrition Services Department completes and submits applications for the interested schools. Because the awarded amount to the state changes every year, so do the number of schools receiving funding. This year, we are fortunate to have two schools awarded; Fellsmere Elementary receiving $33,900 and Indian River Academy receiving $25,900. The level of funding provided to each school is $50 per student of total enrollment based on October 2016 data provided by the school district.
The produce is purchased locally through the Food and Nutrition’s Services distributor, Robert Erneston Produce. Each week, students sample seasonal and local produce. The most popular items have been pineapple spears, fresh kiwis, butternut squash, and sugar snap peas.
Superintendent Mark Rendell added, “We are so fortunate to be able to provide this to our students. In our world today, we consume so much pre-packaged and processed foods that we must take every opportunity to expose our young people to fresh, healthy options. The fact that it is locally grown produce makes it even more special.”
The highlight of the program is seeing elementary students taste new and healthy food for the first time.