The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) at the federal level. At the state level, the FFVP is administered by the California Department of Education (CDE), Nutrition Services Division (NSD). The purpose of this federal assistance program is to provide an additional free fresh fruit or vegetable snack to students during the school day as a supplement to (and not part of) the school breakfast and lunch programs, and to teach students about good nutrition. The FFVP also encourages grantees to develop partnerships at the state and local level for support in implementing and operating the program. The FFVP is a reimbursement grant program and selected schools receive a year-long grant (June–July) to implement the program. California first participated in the FFVP in July 2008 with 24 pilot schools and the program continues to grow each year.
The goal of the FFVP is to create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices, and to:
- Expand the fruits and vegetables children experience
- Increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption
- Make a difference in children’s diets to impact their present and future health
The program is seen as an important catalyst for change in efforts to combat childhood obesity and by helping children learn more healthful eating habits.
The FFVP began as the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program, authorized by Congress under the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Public Law 107–171) in a limited number of states and schools. The purpose of the pilot was to identify best practices for increasing fresh fruit and vegetable consumption among students and to determine the feasibility and students’ interest.
In 2008, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) amended the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act by adding section 19, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Section 19 authorized the program nationwide to 50 states (as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) and provided significant funding increases, beginning with $40 million in federal fiscal year 2009 and growing to $150 million by 2012. After fiscal year 2012, annual changes will be made in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.
How Does It Work?
A School Food Authority (SFA) must submit an application to the CDE by the deadline each year to be considered for a grant. The following are considered to be SFAs and are eligible to apply for a FFVP grant:
- School districts and county offices of education are eligible to apply on behalf of their school sites.
- Direct funded charter schools are eligible to apply directly.
- Private elementary schools are eligible to apply if they participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and 50 percent or more of their students are eligible for free/reduced price meals.
- Residential child care institutions may also apply if they operate an elementary school during the day and participate in the NSLP.
The State Agency (SA) is required to select elementary schools to participate that have the highest free and reduced price enrollment. Elementary schools who receive a grant are awarded $50.00–$75.00 per student for the school year. The SA identifies the per‐student funding based on total funds allocated to the state and the enrollment of applicant schools.
With these funds, schools purchase additional fresh fruits and vegetables to serve free to students as a snack during the school day. Participating school sites must serve the snack outside the normal time frames for the NSLP and School Breakfast Program (SBP). The SFA determines the best method to obtain and serve the additional fresh produce within the program requirements.
The SFAs participating in the FFVP submit monthly reimbursement claim forms, which are reviewed and approved by the SA. The SA reimburses the SFA for the cost of the fresh fruits and vegetables and limited non‐food costs.
The USDA provides funds to the SA to administer the program according to federal requirements.
Program Minimum Requirements
Schools have the flexibility to develop their own implementation plan, choose the type of produce, number of days a week (at least three days per week), and times during the day (outside of NSLP and SBP operation) to provide the free fresh fruit or vegetable snacks to their students. Schools must agree to widely publicize the availability of the program. Schools must follow all food safety requirements and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point guidance. Schools are encouraged to develop partnerships to help implement the program, such as with local universities, extension services, farmer’s markets, and local growers and grocers.
At a minimum, for a school to receive a FFVP grant they must:
- Be an elementary school
- Operate the National School Lunch Program
- Have 50 percent or greater of enrolled students eligible for free and reduced price meals; priority given to those with the highest percentage
- Have documented support of the food service, principal, and district superintendent
- Submit a FFVP application to the NSD by the posted deadline—FFVP applications are available each spring (March) on the CDE Web site and are due four weeks after posting (April)
- Implement the FFVP in accordance to the most recent guidelines issued by the USDA in their FFVP Handbook for Schools [http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/FFVP/handbook.pdf] (PDF)
The FFVP is a reimbursement grant. Therefore, grantees must expend their own funds and then submit a claim form (monthly) to the SA for reimbursement.
Payment Timeline: Upon receipt of a claim form, the NSD and the State Controller’s Office (SCO) will process the claim within 45 calendar days. Please note: once the SCO has mailed a reimbursement check, the time frame for a school to receive the payment will vary due to the practices within a specific county.
USDA Program Resources
- Toolkit [http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/FFVP/toolkit.htm]
Nutrition Education Resources
- Team Nutrition [http://www.fns.usda.gov/TN/]
- Choose MyPlate [http://www.choosemyplate.gov/]
- Harvest of the Month [http://www.harvestofthemonth.com/web-links.asp]
- Program Policy [http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/FFVP/policy.htm]
- FFVP Handbook for Schools [http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/FFVP/handbook.pdf] (PDF)
For program questions, please contact Elizabeth Moreno, Nutrition Education Consultant, or Isabelle Le, Program Specialist, by e-mail at FFVP@cde.ca.gov or by phone at 800-952-5609.