Proposed Rule on FFVP
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) provides a fresh fruit or vegetable snack to all students in participating schools. The goal of this program is to increase the variety of fruits and vegetables children consume, create healthier school food environments, and positively impact the nutrition of not only the students but their families. Elementary schools with at least 50 percent of their students eligible for free and reduced-price meals can apply to participate in FFVP. Top priority is given to the schools with the highest proportion of free and reduced-price eligible students.
Elementary schools that serve a high number of low-income children (at least 50 percent free and reduced-price eligible) can apply to participate in the program. The number of schools varies in each state and is based on a per-student allocation that is at least $50 and no more than $75 per student per year. USDA guidance recommends that the snacks be given as many times a week as possible over the entire school year.
Participating schools must:
USDA recommends that schools also provide accompanying nutrition education, but funds provided for the program do not cover these costs. Schools must use volunteer or other resources for this part of the program if they have them.
An elementary school with at least 50 percent of its students certified for free and reduced-price meals can apply for funding. Top priority is given to the schools with the highest proportion of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
Once a school is chosen, the entire student population must have the opportunity to participate at no cost.
State child nutrition agencies are responsible for administering the program which includes developing an application process and conducting outreach to schools with the highest proportion of students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. States must at a minimum inform all elementary schools at or above 50 percent free and reduced price enrollment of the FFVP.
The program funding for the 2009-2010 school year is $72.5 million. The program funding will increase each year until it reaches $150 million per year starting in the 2011-2012 school year. In the subsequent years, the funding will be adjusted for inflation. The number of participating schools is expected to increase as the funding level increases.
The funds are distributed to all states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. Each state receives at least 1 percent of the annual funding, and the remaining funds are distributed to states based on their population. Participating schools receive at least $50 per student per year and no more than $75.
Congress originally created the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program through the 2002 Farm Bill as a time-limited pilot project in 25 schools in four states (Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio) and in seven schools of the Zuni Indian Tribal Organization (ITO) in New Mexico. Click here for more information about the pilot project.
An evaluation report of the pilot program issued in May 2003 found that the program was well received by school staff and students alike. Participating students consumed a larger variety of fresh fruits and vegetables than students who were not participating in the program, and began to positively influence their families’ eating habits. Schools reported that students were eating more fruits and vegetables, had improved cognition, longer attention spans, were less hungry through the day, visited the nurse less, and had fewer behavior problems.
The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization made the program permanent and expanded it to include 25 schools in four additional states and two more ITOs. The four additional states were Mississippi, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Washington. The two additional ITO’s were the Inter Tribal Councils of Arizona (representing the Pima and Tohono O’odham communities) and South Dakota (the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation).
The Fiscal Year 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Act expanded the program further by adding six new states (Connecticut, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin) bringing the total number of states in the program to 14. The Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Spending Bill expanded the program to all states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands beginning in the 2008-2009 school year.
Efforts to expand FFVP nationwide and target it to low-income children were successful in the 2008 Farm Bill. The program was revised to target elementary schools with at least 50 percent of their students eligible for free and reduced-price meals, with high priority given to the schools with the highest proportion of free and reduced-price eligible students. Also, FFVP was funded it at a much higher level – reaching $150 million per year in 2011.