Politics… everyone’s favorite topic, right? It might not be your favorite topic, but if you have a child in a K-12 school in the United States, you should be informed about Child Nutrition Policy. And most importantly, I think moms should care about this policy.
Being honest, policy is one of my favorite things to discuss with fans and followers of The Produce Mom. I believe this enjoyment is rooted in the fact that I have two sons who purchase USDA School Lunch on a daily basis at their elementary school. Even as the Founder of The Produce Mom, nothing I say to my children or put on their plate carries the same impact of what happens in the lunchroom.
…For 11 years I have worked in the fresh produce industry – I began my career by selling fruits and vegetables to grocery stores. Years later I started The Produce Mom and I am now focused on educating moms like me about the ins & outs of fruits and veggies.
…I have been passionate about NatureFresh™ Farms for the last 5 years of my life. My passion for the NatureFresh™ brand began when I was selling produce to grocery stores and had the opportunity to taste some of their tomatoes. I was sold at first bite! I couldn’t wait to sell and recommend the NatureFresh™ brand to the produce managers that we my customers.
…Sadly, I didn’t have much luck at home with NatureFresh™ Farms products – my boys didn’t care for fresh tomatoes, cucumbers or bell peppers.
…Imagine my surprise when my oldest son came home from school one weekend in March 2016 and said: “Mom, do we have any cucumbers?”
“Son, I didn’t know you like cucumbers.” He interrupted me and said, “I eat them every day at lunch. They are on the salad bar.” Since this moment, NatureFresh™ Farms seedless cucumbers have been on my weekly shopping list and I have been a passionate advocate for Child Nutrition Policy.
…One reason I’m passionate about protecting and increasing the availability of fresh produce at schools in America because I want more moms to enjoy moments like my son’s cucumber epiphany. School food service offerings such as Salad Bars and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program simply work!
In addition to witnessing the influence of USDA School Meal Programs on my household, I have a strong awareness and empathy for the fact that School Meal Programs are the primary source of food for many American children. I proudly serve on the Wellness Committee at Indianapolis Public Schools, my home state’s largest school district. IPS offers 100% of their students free breakfast and lunch as well as K-12 participation in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program. On one side of the coin I’m sad that my hometown has this kind of need. At the same time, though, there is no other federal policy or government program that encourages positive change in the habits and lifestyles of children. In America today, over half of our nation’s households qualify for free and reduced lunch due to socioeconomic status and food insecurity. This is where the school foodservice department becomes political.
Sadly, our school meal programs are constantly being jeopardized through activity in DC that relates to Child Nutrition Policy. I am proud to visit the Hill and meet with Senate Ag Committee leaders and The Education & Workforce Committee in the House. We are currently fighting policy that could jeopardize the “Fresh” in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) as well as the ½ cup serving size of fruits and vegetables in USDA School Meals.
FFVP is one of the most successful Child Nutrition Programs ever in the United States. This program is considered a “3rd meal” or “Snack” at schools. It is currently served in the classroom, usually in late morning before lunch, and is exclusive to fresh fruits and vegetables. This program is increasing produce consumption and has an overwhelmingly positive rating at schools. A promising new study from University of Arkansas was just published and found that children at FFVP schools are seeing a 15% reduction in BMI readings, making FFVP one of the strongest change-agent child nutrition programs in the United States!
If you want your child to:
- Try more fruits and vegetables
- Independently make healthy food choices
- Have more fresh produce at school
Then you really need to care about the policy and programs that progress the consumption habits and wellness trends with children.
Here is a link for you to get involved and send your elected officials a letter – join me by telling Congress that we want to Keep FFVP FRESH. The voice of all moms is needed. You can also email me – I would love to answer any additional questions you have about this topic.
Thank you so much to NatureFresh Farms for allowing me to write this blog on their website and for all their support to bring more FRESH to schools and children across North America.
Here are some additional resources for you:
- USDA FFVP Fact Sheet = http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/FFVPFactSheet.pdf
- FFVP Resources for Foodservice, Classroom, and Family Use = https://www.education.ne.gov/ns/nslp/FFVP/FFVPResources.html
- Public Health Advocates Support FFVP = http://www.unitedfresh.org/content/uploads/2014/06/Public_Health_Letter_Keep_FFVP_Fresh.pdf
- The Effect of FFVP on Childhood Obesity = http://aepp.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/06/20/aepp.ppv017.abstract
- The Produce Mom Supports FFVP = http://www.theproducemom.com/2015/11/14/fresh-produce-in-schools-at-risk/