Victory!!: Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Program
YAAAAYYYY!!! As much as HangryHippo loves to rant and expose injustices in the weight loss industry and our nation at-large, it is also an incredible joy to praise societal and cultural victories. So, celebrate we shall!
Just yesterday it was announced that “$2,938,000 in federal funds awarded by the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), a U.S. Department of Agriculture funded project” are being distributed throughout Maryland Public Schools that applied and were accepted to the program. You can read the whole article here, but some key components to this program that made me jump for joy were:
The funds provide fresh fruits and vegetables to kids enrolled in participating schools, most of whom come from low-income homes with limited access to fresh produce, according to program officials.
…teachers will be have the opportunity to incorporate nutrition lessons with the serving of fresh produce, say Maryland Department of Education officials.
As part of their applications, schools submitted plans outlining how they might obtain and distribute the produce and promote the program to students. Farmers’ market-style kiosks, food preparation demonstrations by trained chefs, and elaborate carnival style kick-off weeks were among the schemes cooked up to engage students.
This is so marvelous! It is invaluable to expose children to nutrition and making healthy eating choices early on, especially those who would not have access to such options otherwise, so that they can have agency over what they eat now and in the future. Although I know from extensive experience working with school-aged children that it can often be difficult to get them to choose say celery sticks over a bag of chips, it is amazing how much of an impact you can make just by giving a child a choice. Often, they discover new foods that they would never have tried and realize they adore, they encourage each other to be proactive and educated based on what they themselves have learned, and they take these lessons home and out into the world with them.
Recently at the program I work at for school-aged children, one first grader revealed to me that he had decided he would never again eat a chicken nugget or ketchup, and insisted that salad was his favorite food. When I asked him how he had come to this decision (while congratulating him on his dedication to health consciousness at the tender age of 6!), he cited Jamie Oliver’s program “Food Revolution” as his inspiration. He had seen an episode of the TV show where Oliver showed the grotesque way in which chicken nuggets are made and how much sugar and preservatives ketchup contains and this 6 year old was so disgusted and horrified that he made a personal vow to protect himself and not indulge in these again (and he insisted on warning all the other classmates about what he had witnessed in graphic detail…oy). But even just reading the mission of Food Revolution is inspiring
“This Food Revolution is about saving America’s health by changing the way people eat. It’s not just a TV show; it’s a movement for you, your family and your community. If you care about your kids and their future, take this revolution and make it your own. Educate yourself about food and cooking, and find out what your child is eating at school. Make only a few small changes and magical things will happen. Switching from processed to fresh food will not only make you feel better, it will also add years to your life.”
and programs like FFVP are beginning to make and encourage these changes. And this is definitely something to celebrate.
(Image courtesy of www.captain5aday.org, an amazing program helping and encouraging parents and kids “enjoy locally grown produce throughout the year”!)