NEWS RELEASES 2010-11 :: MAY 5, 2011

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Students at 170 North Carolina elementary schools – the most ever to date – will have more access to fresh fruits and vegetables during the school day next year thanks to a $3.9 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The grant will be used by schools' staff to promote healthier food choices through the purchase of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as daily snacks for students and by helping teachers incorporate nutrition education in lesson plans.

This is the eighth consecutive year North Carolina has had the opportunity to participate in the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Participating elementary schools use the funds to purchase and serve a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to students. Previous program participants provided fruit baskets inside classrooms, kiosks in the hallways, and other innovative approaches to give students the opportunity to grab fresh fruit or vegetable snacks during the school day.

"I am so pleased that more elementary schools are going to be able to participate in this program next year, particularly because these are such tough economic times for so many North Carolina citizens," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "The importance of maintaining a healthy diet is a message our youngest students need to hear and hear often. Children who develop healthy lifestyles early on will reap benefits that extend beyond the classroom."

Schools participating in the program will also make nutrition education a priority so students will learn how fresh fruits and vegetables are a critical part of a healthy diet and can help prevent obesity. "This program creates an optimum environment for students to develop healthy snacking habits because it incorporates all the senses – sight, touch, smell, sound and taste," said NCDPI Child Nutrition Services Director Lynn Harvey.

The NCDPI's Child Nutrition Services Section is partnering with the NC Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health and the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services to implement the program in the 2011-12 school year. For more information on the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, please contact the NCDPI Communications division at 919.807.3450.

Elementary Schools
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About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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.