On Wednesday May 17, You’re the Cure advocates from six key states (CO, KS, MN, NE, OR, and TX) flew to Washington D.C. to urge their Members of Congress protect the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). The FFVP provides snacks of fresh fruit and vegetables to elementary school students in low-income schools across the country, increasing access to and consumption of fresh produce. As Congress reauthorizes the 2012 Farm Bill, the program faces threats.
The seven advocates attended an afternoon of issue training and legislative meeting practice to prepare them for their day on Capitol Hill, where they met with Senators, Representatives, and staff.
Additionally advocates participated in a congressional briefing, The Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program: A Win for Agriculture, Children, Schools, Families and Public Health, where they shared firsthand experience with implementing the program in their schools.
Annette Derouin, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Willmar Public Schools in Willmar, MN, noted how the FFVP is transforming her elementary students into fruit and vegetable lovers, recalling how the students applaud and yell out “thank you” when the fresh fruit and vegetable snacks are delivered to their classrooms every day. Rex Bruce, Superintendent of Sublette School District in Sublette, Kansas, gave evidence for how the FFVP is improving child nutrition, academic performance and the local economy. Sublette elementary schools purchase $30,000 of fresh fruits and vegetables for the FFVP from their local supermarket each year, helping that supermarket stay in the community.
Jessie Coffey, FFVP Coordinator for Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Gitta Grether-Sweeney, Director of Nutrition Services for Portland Public Schools in Portland, Oregon, told the House and Senate audience that their FFVP reaches 10,000 and 9,000 low-income elementary students every day, respectively. Coffey and Grether-Sweeny explained that the demand for FFVP is greater than the available funding at both the district and state level.
The event was co-hosted by the American Heart Association and United Fresh Produce.
Check out the You’re the Cure Facebook page for more pictures of the event!