The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) is a reimbursement grant program that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers at the federal level. At the state level, the California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division (NSD) administers the FFVP and selects schools to receive a year-long grant (July–June) to implement the program. 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 Program (SBP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP), 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.
For questions regarding the content of this Web page, please contact the FFVP team by phone at 800-952-5609 or by e-mail at FFVP@cde.ca.gov.
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 feasibility and student interest.
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 (FFY) 2009 and growing to $150 million by 2012. After FFY 2012, annual changes are made in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.
The goal of the FFVP is to improve 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 affect 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.
California first participated in the FFVP in July 2008 with 24 pilot schools and the program continues to grow each year:
- Received $12.2 million in SY 2015–16 and funded 371 school sites
- Received $11.98 million in SY 2014–15 and funded 367 school sites
- Received $11.3 million in SY 2013–14 and funded 367 school sites
- Received $11.2 million in SY 2012–13 and funded 342 school sites
- Received $10.8 million in SY 2011–12 and funded 315 school sites
- Received $7.6 million in SY 2010–11 and funded 209 school sites
- Received $5 million in SY 2009–10 and funded 144 school sites
- Received an additional $2.5 million in October 2008 and funded an additional 107 schools during School Year (SY) 2008–09
- Received $184,101 in July 2008 and funded 24 pilot schools
How Does It Work?
The USDA provides funds to the CDE NSD to administer the program according to federal requirements. The NSD provides reimbursement to selected schools for the cost of making free fresh fruits and vegetables available to students during the school day as long as funds are available. As required by federal law, the selection criteria is based on a school’s percentage of free and reduced-price enrollment with priority given to schools with the highest percentages of free and reduced-price eligible students to the maximum extent practicable. The selected elementary schools receive grant awards of $50–$75 per student for the school year. With these funds, schools purchase additional fresh fruits and vegetables to serve free to students as a snack outside of normal meal service.
To be eligible for the FFVP, an agency must be a school food authority (SFA). According to Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), Section 210.2, an SFA is defined as the governing body which is responsible for the administration of one or more schools and has the legal authority to operate the program therein or be otherwise approved by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to operate the program.
The following are considered SFAs and are eligible to apply for an FFVP grant:
- School districts and county offices of education on behalf of their school sites
- Direct-funded charter schools
- Private elementary schools participating in the NSLP if 50 percent or more of their students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals
- Residential child care institutions operating an elementary school during the day and participating in the NSLP
To receive an FFVP grant, a school must meet the following minimum criteria:
- Be an elementary school
- Operate the NSLP
- Have 50 percent or more of the student enrollment eligible for free and reduced-price meals; priority is given to SFAs with the highest percentage
- Provide an implementation plan describing the snack service time and frequency, nutrition education, and collaborative partnerships
- Have documented support of the school food service manager, principal, and district superintendent
- Submit a grant application package by the deadline
- Be in good standing with the operation of all other federal child nutrition programs (CNP)
Grant Program Requirements
Schools have the flexibility to develop their own implementation plan and choose the type of produce, number of days a week, and times during the day to provide the free fresh fruit or vegetable snacks to their students. Schools are also encouraged to develop partnerships to help implement the program, such as with local universities, extension services, farmers markets, and local growers and grocers.
Schools are required to adhere to the following:
- Make free fresh fruits and vegetables available during the school day as a snack to all enrolled children outside of NSLP and SBP operation
- Offer the FFVP snack a minimum of three times per week
- Offer nutrition education at least one time per week as part of the FFVP
- Follow all food safety requirements and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point guidance
- Widely publicize the availability of fresh fruit and vegetable snacks within the school
- Implement the FFVP in accordance with the most recent guidelines by the USDA issued at USDA FFVP Handbook for Schools (PDF)
In addition, the SFA must remain in good standing in the operation of all other federal CNPs. Good standing means an SFA is not documented as being seriously deficient in managing any USDA CNP. The SFA cannot have outstanding administrative or program findings that document violations of the requirements of any CNP (7 CFR, sections 211.10(c), 226.6(c)(3)(ii), 225.11(c), and 210.24; and the USDA FFVP Handbook for Schools (PDF), December 2010, pages 4–5).
The FFVP is a reimbursement grant; therefore, grantees must expend their own funds and then submit a claim for reimbursement to the CDE. SFAs participating in the FFVP submit monthly reimbursement claim forms to the NSD for review and approval. The NSD reimburses the SFA for the fresh fruit and vegetable, operational, and administrative costs to implement the program. Upon receipt of a claim, 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.
You can download the grant application package and instructions from the CDE Available Funding Web page.
The following links include current and previous school year program grant recipients and funding allocations for the FFVP:
USDA Program Resources
Nutrition Education Resources
CDE Program Resources
The training materials listed below provide a detailed review of the FFVP grant requirements, school food authority (SFA) and state responsibilities, and the claiming process for School Year 2014–15. You may choose to view training materials online or attend a Webinar presented by NSD staff.
Module I – FFVP Orientation: Grant Overview
FFVP Orientation: Grant Overview Video includes an overview of the FFVP’s purpose and history, grant implementation guidelines, funding timelines, and program monitoring. Upon completion of this module, participants will have a foundation for understanding the FFVP requirements.
Module II – FFVP Orientation: Fiscal Responsibilities
FFVP Orientation: Fiscal Responsibilities Video includes an overview of FFVP funding and expenditures categories as well as the specific fiscal responsibilities of the SFA and the state agency relating to the FFVP. Upon completion of this module, participants will understand the fiscal responsibilities of schools implementing the FFVP.
Module III – FFVP Claims
FFVP Claiming in CNIPS Video includes an overview of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) claim entry application and step by step instruction on how to submit, modify, revise, and delete an FFVP claim. Upon completion of this module, participants will understand how to successfully complete and submit their FFVP claims in CNIPS.
- FFVP Orientation: Program Requirements (PPT; 2MB) Accessible Alternative Version
- FFVP Orientation: Fiscal Responsibilities (PPT; 2MB) Accessible Alternative Version
- FFVP Orientation: Claiming in CNIPS (PPT; 2MB) Accessible Alternative Version
- USDA FFVP Handbook for Schools (PDF)
- FFVP California Guidelines
- FFVP User Manual for Claiming in CNIPS (DOC; 3MB)
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can we apply for the grant if we are a small charter school or residential child care institution (RCCI)?
Answer: Yes. However, charter schools must be elementary schools and operate the NSLP. In addition, RCCIs must operate an elementary school during the day and operate the NSLP.
Question: Do we need to serve FFVP snacks three times a week during short school weeks?
Answer: No. You may have fewer offerings during a short week as long as the average weekly offering is three days a week.
Question: Can we offer the FFVP snack every day?
Answer: Yes. In California, the CDE requires schools to offer the FFVP at a minimum of three times a week. However, each grantee implements the program based on a budget that fits their enrollment and award per school site, and may find it possible to offer the snack more frequently.
Question: Are menu production records required?
Answer: No. However, schools must maintain supporting documentation for all the expenses charged to the grant and claimed for reimbursement.
Question: Can we buy equipment and supplies or pay for labor with FFVP funding?
Answer: Yes. Up to 30 percent of the grant award is available for operating costs directly related to FFVP and up to 10 percent of the grant award is allowed for indirect costs. An equipment justification form must be submitted to the CDE for approval prior to purchasing any equipment over $300. Please note: schools claiming labor costs must follow state guidance, the California School Accounting Manual, located on the CDE Definitions, Instructions, and Procedures Web page, and Title 2, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 225 (also referred to as Office of Management and Budget Circular A-87). Additional guidance from the CDE regarding direct and indirect costs, equipment purchases, and payroll documentation is available in Management Bulletin (MB) SNP-06-2014, Documenting Employee Time and Effort in Federal School Nutrition Programs and MB SNP-07-2013 Cafeteria Funds—Allowable Uses.
Question: If we have leftovers from the FFVP and we added the leftovers to the salad bar, would we be able to count the salad as a meal component because we added it to the salad bar?
Answer: No. Leftovers that cannot be easily used in the FFVP can be added to the meal program line as “extra food” only to avoid waste. According to the 2014–15 USDA Offer vs. Serve Manual (PDF),“extra food” cannot be used to fulfill a meal component and must be accounted for in the weekly dietary specifications (calories, saturated fat, and sodium) to ensure compliance with the USDA New Meal Pattern. In addition, this practice is only acceptable when in compliance with applicable state and local health codes referenced in the CDE MB SNP-05-2008, Clarification Regarding the Use of "Sharing Tables" and Recycled Milk in School Nutrition Programs.
Question: Can we purchase and serve precut and packaged fresh fruits and vegetables from a vendor?
Answer: Yes. Schools are encouraged to partner with local farmers as well as provide a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Question: Do we track participation in FFVP?
Answer: No. The FFVP must be offered to all enrolled students at the school, but a grantee does not need to count the students who take the snack. However, schools are required to track how many days per week and days per month the FFVP is offered at each school site. This information is part of the claim.
Question: Can processed fruit or vegetables be served once per week?
Answer: No. Processed fruit and vegetables are not allowed. A fresh vegetable can be cooked and served once a week as part of the FFVP if it is paired with a nutrition lesson.
Question: Do teachers need to teach a nutrition lesson daily or weekly if we offer it five days a week?
Answer: No. Nutrition education only needs to occur one time per week even if you offer the snack five days per week. However, we encourage sharing nutrition information with each snack offering. Links to free sources of nutrition education are available on the CDE FFVP Resources Web page.
Question: Can we offer the FFVP snack in the classroom as part of our nutrition education or health curriculum?
Answer: Yes. California requires schools to provide nutrition education at least once a week as part of the FFVP. The type of nutrition education is flexible and it is up to the school site to decide how detailed the nutrition activity or lessons may be.
Question: Can schools bid FFVP, NSLP, and SBP produce purchases together?
Answer: Yes. However, schools must be able to document which items are purchased for the FFVP because the funding for FFVP is separate from the meal programs.