BOLINGBROOK – Bolingbrook's B.J. Ward Elementary School is among 239 schools in Illinois that will participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program during the 2013-14 school year, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.
“We are excited to administer this valuable federal program, which teaches our schoolchildren healthier choices by introducing them to more fruits and vegetables,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Research clearly has shown that proper nutrition contributes to learning, and this is an excellent program to boost health and education.”
The nationwide program was created to increase the fruit and vegetable consumption among students by providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to students outside of regular school meals. Participating schools can spend $50 to $75 per enrolled student during the school year, with the majority of those funds going for fresh produce.
The produce program 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.
The goal is to expose students to lifelong healthy eating habits. Schools can incorporate nutrition education into numerous daily classroom activities such as math, health, geography and science, by developing lesson plans involving fruits and vegetables.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture first 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.
The fresh produce purchased under this program cannot be used to replace fruits or vegetables already being served to students at breakfast or lunch.