“Right now we’re doing a lot of fruits, more than vegetables because it seems like our fruits are fresher right now,” Angie Morgan, Park City cafeteria manager, told Nations.“We’re doing bananas, apples, grapes, strawberries, pears — they really like the bananas, they love the grapes.”
Schools chosen for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, implemented through the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the effort to combat childhood obesity, are required to participate in the National School Lunch Program and have 50 percent or more of their students eligible for free/reduced-price meals, according to a Kentucky Department of Education press release. The program requires a yearly application and Park City Elementary is already planning to re-apply.
Kentucky received $2.95 million in FFVP funding for the 2015-`16 school year, which will provide a fresh fruit or vegetable snack to nearly 59,000 students in the 137 chosen Kentucky schools. Each participating school will receive approximately $50 per student to provide for this program, according to the news release. To see if your school was chosen for this program, click here.
Teachers say the Park City Elementary students have embraced the daily snack program, but they also note that it offers students an opportunity to demonstrate leadership, connecting the daily responsibility of getting the healthy snack for the classroom to the school's "Leader in Me" initiative.
“The teachers give the children jobs in their classroom, and (this program) gives a child a job,” Morgan told Nations. “They know that this week, it’s their responsibility to stop and pick up the fruit for the room.”
Teachers have flexibility in when to offer the snacks, with many of them at Park City Elementary incorporating it into daily reading time, Nations reports.
“It becomes almost like a home environment here at school, and they really see it as reading for enjoyment as opposed to reading for an assignment task,” Anthony Janes, Park City's principal, told Nations. “If you look at data, if you read 20 minutes a day, then you can increase your vocabulary exponentially just by reading for enjoyment.”
Eventually, Park City Elementary plans to offer the students unfamiliar fruits and vegetables, which is one of the goals of the program..
“Many of our students just aren’t exposed to those options, and to say that they’re going to get kiwi or they’re going to get starfruit, I’m really excited about that for the kids,” Janes told Nations. “It’s an opportunity.”
Students at this elementary school who don't want the snack are asked to place it on a sharing table in their given classroom and any fruits or vegetables not eaten at the end of the day are given to the Run Club for their after-school snack.