Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
Bradley Schools introduce students to healthy eating habits and snack options through its Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. This nationwide federally assisted initiative aims to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, expose children to a variety of fruits and vegetables, and help combat childhood obesity.
Greta Francis, PhD, clinical child psychologist at Bradley Schools says the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program has expanded the snack experience for students. “Our goal is to broaden their repertoire of foods, while encouraging them to try different fruits and vegetables they may not be familiar with or may not be able to identify,” says Francis.
At Bradley Schools, education is just as important as healthy food exposure. Money from the federal grant is used to purchase an assortment of fruits and vegetables, some of which fall in the same family, to help children identify similarities and differences. Children look for commonalities in shape, size, color and taste.
“We offer the program to all our students and our hope is that they seek these healthy choices outside of school as well,” says Francis.
Initially, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program was offered to a limited number of schools under the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. Six years later, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 expanded the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program nationwide and increased federal funding to support the program.
The Rhode Island Department of Education administers the program and a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program coordinator works directly with the Bradley Schools.
“Since its inception we have heard a lot of positive feedback from the students and their parents about this program,” says Francis. “Parents want to know their children are eating healthy and doing so on their own, and children are having fun learning about different fruits and vegetables and choosing healthy snacks.”