The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program began as a four-state pilot in 2002 but expanded with the 2008 farm bill to become a nationwide program. Initial funding was $40 million for the 2008 school year and increased to $150 million per year for the 2011-12 school year.
The agency said program funds are allocated at $50 to $75 per student per school year, between $1 and $2 per student per week, to schools with the highest percentage of low-income students.
For fiscal year 2013, DiSogra said program funding was near $163 million, which included some carryover funds from the previous year. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, now in more than 7,000 U.S. schools, is not subject to mandated sequestration budget cuts. Similar funding for the program is anticipated for fiscal year 2014, DiSogra said.
Of specialty crop programs in the 2008 farm bill, DiSogra said the $1.2 billion in funding over 10 years for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program represents a big slice of the estimated $3 billion allocation over 10 years for all specialty crop industry programs in the farm bill.
“It’s very significant for our members and our association,” she said.
In his appearance in South Dakota, Vilsack also announced that $285 million will be made available to the states for healthy eating initiatives under the SNAP: Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Program, a food stamp program. He said initiatives might include investing in farmers markets, community gardens in low-income areas, or educating retailers on how to stock healthier choices.
Tom Quaife, editor of The Packer’s sister publication “Dairy Herd Management,” contributed to this article.