In 2005, California enacted Senate Bill 281, which established the California Fresh Start Program (CFSP), to encourage and support schools to provide additional portions of fresh fruit and vegetables in the School Breakfast Program (SBP). The CFSP, the nation’s first program earmarking funds to increase consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables in a school nutrition program, reimbursed participating schools 10 cents for every breakfast offering an additional serving of fruit and vegetables. In 2006-07, the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health conducted an extensive evaluation of the implementation of the CFSP in 69 diverse schools. The findings of the evaluation are detailed in this report.
The CFSP exceeded expectations in many areas. During the CFSP at participating schools:
- The amount of fresh fruits and vegetables offered to students doubled.
- The amount of fresh fruit taken by students at breakfast increased to an even greater degree (up 136 percent).
- The variety of fruits and vegetables offered to students at breakfast increased substantially.
- The amount of fruit juice schools offered and students took at breakfast decreased.
- Participation in school breakfast increased by about two percent, enough to bring nearly $1 million in additional federal meal reimbursement to the state.
While the greatest absolute increase in fruit and vegetables provided included the more common fruits—apples, oranges, and bananas—even more significant were the relative increases in more “exotic” fruits, like stone fruits (peaches, apricots, plums etc.), kiwi, pineapple, pears, and tangerines among others.
In addition, the findings indicated that increasing the CFSP reimbursement rate to greater than 10 cents would be necessary to adequately cover the costs of:
- Fruits and vegetables including losses due to perishability
- Nutrition education and promotion
- Labor associated with preparation of produce
During the first year of implementation, the CFSP generated significant increases in the amount of fruits and vegetables offered and taken by students. With the enhancements suggested in the report and expansion to more schools, the CFSP showed potential for still greater success if continued in the future.
The full California Fresh Start Program (CFSP) Evaluation Report (PDF) is available on the Center for Weight and Health at the University of California, Berkeley Web site. It is a report of the findings from a comprehensive evaluation of the implementation of the CFSP.
The Center for Weight and Health at the University of California, Berkeley was employed as the independent evaluator by the Alameda County Office of Education , recipient of the grant authorized by SB 281 with funds administered by the California Department of Education (CDE).