Those of us still fighting childhood memories of standing in line for grey "mashed potatoes," slimy canned "pears," and half-thawed "chicken" strips would likely support a plan to provide this generation of kids foods that don't necessitate the addition of quotation marks.
Now, 136 Maryland public schools are hoping to do just that with $2,938,000 in federal funds awarded by the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), a U.S. Department of Agriculture funded project.
The funds provide fresh fruits and vegetables to kids enrolled in participating schools, most of whom come from low-income homes with limited access to fresh produce, according to program officials. Schools awarded funds through the program must have already participated in the National School Lunch Program. The current funding level for the FFVP provides reimbursement for fresh produce at a rate of $50 per child over the school year.
Fruits and vegetables paid for by FFVP may only be served during school hours, which means School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program meals will not be affected. It also means that teachers will be have the opportunity to incorporate nutrition lessons with the serving of fresh produce, say Maryland Department of Education officials.
As part of their applications, schools submitted plans outlining how they might obtain and distribute the produce and promote the program to students. Farmers' market-style kiosks, food preparation demonstrations by trained chefs, and elaborate carnival style kick-off weeks were among the schemes cooked up to engage students.
Last month, students at Turner Elementary School were inadvertently given raw green onions, instead of zucchini slices, as a FFVP snack. A number of children reportedly threw the snacks in the trash; others resourcefully tucked them into their bags to take home to cook. Noma does a great spring onion with seaweed butter, kids. The recipe is totally online.
You can find a list of Maryland Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program participants here.