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NEWS RELEASES 2007-08 :: MAY 16, 2008


Students at 25 elementary schools across the state will have access to fresh fruits and vegetables throughout their school day thanks to a $1 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is the fifth year North Carolina public schools have participated in the USDA's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

The USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program promotes increasing student consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by providing schools funds to purchase and serve a wide variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables. The fruits and vegetables purchased with these funds must be in addition to those served as part of the school breakfast and lunch programs.

Participating schools are employing a number of innovative approaches to make fresh fruit and vegetables accessible to students, including fruit baskets inside classrooms, kiosks in hallways that enable students to grab a quick healthy snack between classes, and stands where students gather to catch the bus home. Ideally the more students are exposed to fresh fruits and vegetables the more they will begin to choose them over less nutritious snack foods.

Schools participating in the program also make nutrition education a priority so students learn the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet. This program creates an optimum environment for students to develop healthful snack habits because it uses all of their senses – sound, sight, touch, smell, and most important, taste.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said this grant plays an important role in the state's continuing efforts to build on superior schools by focusing on the health of students. "Teaching our students the importance of healthy eating is just as important as teaching them how to read, write and compute. This program will help ensure that our earliest learners master an essential skill that will benefit them for a lifetime," Atkinson said.

NCDPI Child Nutrition Services Director Lynn Hoggard said that classroom performance and student behavior has improved in schools with the Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Program. "Students in these schools have more energy and are less likely to fall asleep in class. These schools also have reported a decrease in student absenteeism," Hoggard said. She added that she would like to see this grant program expanded, which may be possible with the passage of the Farm Bill.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's Child Nutrition Services Section is partnering with the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, and the NC Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health, to implement the program in the following elementary schools:

  • Hillcrest Elementary (Alamance-Burlington Schools);
  • Blue Ridge Elementary (Ashe County Schools);
  • Hall Fletcher Elementary (Asheville City Schools);
  • Crossnore Elementary and Newland Elementary (Avery County Schools);
  • Waccamaw School (Brunswick County Schools);
  • Barnardsville Elementary (Buncombe County Schools);
  • Hiwassee Dam Elementary/Middle (Cherokee County Schools);
  • E.K. Powe Elementary (Durham Public Schools);
  • Cyrus P. Frazier Elementary (Guilford County Schools);
  • Upward Elementary (Henderson County Schools);
  • West Smithfield Elementary (Johnston County Schools);
  • Candor Elementary (Montgomery County Schools);
  • Alderman Elementary (New Hanover County Schools);
  • Long Branch Elementary (Public Schools of Robeson County);
  • Elizabeth Hanford Dole Elementary and North Rowan Elementary (Rowan-Salisbury Schools);
  • East Albemarle Elementary (Stanly County Schools);
  • White Plains Elementary (Surry County Schools);
  • Tyrrell Elementary (Tyrrell County Schools);
  • East Elementary (Union County Schools);
  • Edgewood Elementary and Whiteville Primary (Whiteville City Schools); and
  • Johnson Primary and Tarawa Terrace II Elementary (Camp Lejeune Dependents Schools).

Selection priority was given to schools with:

  1. at least 50 percent of school enrollment eligible for free/reduced price meals;
  2. an innovative implementation plan;
  3. at least one partnership with an entity that provides non-federal resources for purchasing, handling, promoting or distributing fresh fruits and vegetables; and
  4. a committed team of school personnel including principals, teachers, children nutrition personnel and parents.

For more information on the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, please contact the NCDPI Communications division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.