Posted: Sep 7, 2012 at 11:49 AM [Sep 7, 2012]
As summer draws to a close and children head back to school the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is in jeopardy. Currently, nearly 150 schools in Michigan participate in this program, which provides fresh produce to school children.
In 2002, Michigan was one of five test states for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. This pilot was started through the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. The program was expanded in 2004 and became permanent in 2008. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program exposes children to fresh produce (not canned, dried, frozen or processed), which they might not otherwise experience.
According to the American Heart Association, today, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. Children are facing a broad range of health problems due to obesity that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. The Association also connects obesity to psychological effects: obese children are more prone to low self-esteem, negative body image and depression. And excess weight at young ages has been linked to higher and earlier death rates in adulthood.
Because so many elementary schools in our state participate in the program, there is a good chance children in your city or county benefit from having fresh fruits or vegetables as a healthy snack. In addition to eating fresh fruits and vegetables, they also learn the importance of good nutrition. As a result, children are developing healthy habits that equate to lifelong benefits.
Unfortunately, some lawmakers in Congress have offered proposals that would cut funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program by one third and allow other types of snacks to be served, which could weaken its integrity.
Funding lost for this program may result in canned, dried, frozen or processed snack options. If you feel strongly about keeping fresh fruit and vegetables in schools, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can help. If you are interested in advocating for heart health issues, join yourethecure.org.