Providing free fresh produce all day

Carts full of fresh fruits and vegetables provide options to nourish elementary students through the school day in McLean County, Kentucky. Students looking for a healthy snack are able to grab one off the hallway cart at any time of day in school, thanks to a grant.

Melody Chelstrom, Food Service Director for McLean County Public Schools, says the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant made it possible for the district to provide more fruits and vegetables to the students for free outside of the traditional meal times in the cafeteria.  

School nutrition staff place ready-to-eat produce in hallway carts in three elementary schools.  During the day, students can grab healthy options including apples, oranges, bananas, diced peppers, cut broccoli and pineapple chunks.

“We are working with local farms to offer seasonal fruits and vegetables,” said Chelstrom. She also hopes the availability of fruits and vegetables will help families offset the cost of daily snacks.  

Under the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) schools must serve the produce in a way that is easily identifiable and schools must encourage students to enjoy the fruits and vegetables “as they are.”

To encourage students to consume the free healthy snacks, the McLean school nutrition team also assists with nutrition education in the form of coloring pages, worksheets and learning activities.

The FFVP program is available to qualifying elementary schools in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

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