As I sat around the dinner table with my family recently, my son went into great detail about this food he had at school. He couldn’t remember the name, but he said it was kind of like a raw potato and also similar to an apple. He explained how they were given fresh lime to squeeze on it as a flavor enhancer. Totally perplexed, I got up to get the calendar from school to learn he had been sampling jicama. Jicama is just one of the many fruits and vegetables he and his peers are eating as part of the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) began through the Farm and Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. The purpose was to determine the best ways to get more fruit and vegetables consumed in the schools. The program was authorized as a pilot in only 4 states, but the popularity of the program added new states almost every year and today all 50 states are participating. The FFVP is provided to select schools through grants administered through the State Departments of Education. My son’s school, College Hill Elementary in Wichita, KS was fortunate enough to receive the grant this year. They have been seeing fantastic results.
It’s no secret that a strong battle is being fought in order to increase the quality of our school lunches and to teach our children what healthy eating looks like. As the elementary students at College Hill have been introduced to these fruits and vegetables, good results have been shown.
“I think most of the staff has been pleasantly surprised at how willingly the kids have at least tasted everything. I’m sure that we are giving quite a few of these kids an experience with some types of foods that they would never have in their lifetime,” said Karla Stenzel, physical education teacher and the facilitator of the FFVP.