State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that four San Diego County schools are among 342 statewide that will share $11.1 million in federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) grants. Congratulations to America’s Finest Charter, Libby Elementary (Oceanside Unified School District), Alvin M. Dunn Elementary (San Marcos Unified School District), and San Marcos Elementary (San Marcos Unified School District).
“Students who don’t have enough nutritious food to eat can have a tough time succeeding in school,” Torlakson said. “As part of my Team California for Healthy Kids initiative, we are working to help improve their health and physical fitness—which in turn is linked to academic success. Not only will these grants provide fresh fruits and vegetables to elementary school kids, they will also help the local economy by encouraging schools to buy produce from local farmers.”
The federal FFVP offers competitive grants to eligible elementary school sites. The program is designed to provide students with a variety of free fresh fruit and vegetable snacks throughout the school day as a supplement to the school breakfast and lunch programs. It is also designed to teach students about good nutrition. Recipients are encouraged to form partnerships with the fruit and vegetable industry and groups that promote children’s health to support their efforts.
Eligible applicants include elementary schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program and have 50 percent or more of their students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Applicants are funded based upon the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, with priority given to the highest percentage. This year, the California Department of Education (CDE) was able to fund schools that had 85.28 percent or more eligible students. Upon receipt of a FFVP grant, schools must provide a free fresh fruit or vegetable snack during the school day at least three times per week to all enrolled students. Funding is given in two allocations. The first was on July 1, 2012, and the second will be on October 1, 2012. Grant funding was allocated at $55 per student and ranges from $2,750 to $66,000 per school. The list of grantees is attached and listed on the CDE Web page at Funding Results: Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
Torlakson’s Team California for Healthy Kids initiative is designed to promote healthy eating and physical activity every day. Research shows a clear connection between health, learning, and attendance. Healthy children are more successful academically, miss fewer days of school, are more attentive and well-behaved, and are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college.