Alachua County Public Schools Food & Nutrition Department works with local business to offer healthy snacks for children

BY JENNIFER CABRERA, with information from an Alachua County Public Schools press release

Students at Alachua County elementary schools that participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program (FFVP) will be receiving a special edible treat through the end of this month.

Through the FFVP program, students at 16 local schools are served fresh fruit and vegetable snacks daily. The offerings often include items the students have rarely, if ever, tried before. The program also provides educational information about the snacks, including nutrition information, geography, history, and fun facts. The goal is to encourage students to try different, healthier food options.

The FFVP program is provided by the Food & Nutrition Services Department and funded through the USDA Department of Agriculture Farm Bill.

As part of the program, the district’s Food & Nutrition Department purchased individual fruit skewers from Edible Arrangements for students at the FFVP schools, including Alachua, Archer, Boulware, Caring and Sharing, Foster, Glen Springs, Irby, Lake Forest, Littlewood, Metcalfe, Newberry, Norton, Rawlings, Shell, Terwilliger, and Williams. Students at some of the schools have already received the special treat, and distribution will continue through the end of October. $30,580.80 in funds from the FFVP grant went to Edible Arrangements to pay for the treats.

“The Food & Nutrition Department is thrilled to be able to offer this delicious, tasty & healthy treat from Edible Arrangements to the students that participate in the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable program,” said Maria Eunice, Food & Nutrition Services Director. “We know this special treat is going to be a nice surprise and enjoyed by all.”

A two-week sample of the menu shows a variety of fruits and vegetables, including a day featuring farm-to-school cucumbers.

The “fun facts” for the farm-to-school item include information about the source of the local fruit or vegetable – in this case, The Family Garden in Gainesville, owned by Jordan Brown, “only a few blocks away from Lincoln Middle School.” Among other produce, the farm grows lettuce and cucumbers for school lunches.