Enlightened public policy and aggressive advocacy by fresh produce industry leaders have resulted in real business gains in our nation’s schools.
The latest step forward is the “Smart Snacks in Schools” proposal the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued in late June. It provides fresh fruit and vegetables easy access to schools’ al a carte lines and opens up opportunities to increase sales of fresh-cut produce in school vending machines.
The new school snack standard would complement recent improvements to school meals and bolsters the fresh produce presence in schools established by the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program supplies fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to 4 million low-income elementary schoolchildren.
In a similar way, the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign also shows both the public policy momentum and industry passion to deliver salad bars to schools across the U.S.
The challenge for the industry will be to work with school districts and vending machine companies to provide tasty fresh produce options for students. The shelf life and expense of fresh-cut produce compared with processed foods will have to be addressed, but the potential rewards could be great.
Successful market penetration into schools could predispose young students to become lifelong consumers.
Instead of craving a Snickers, students could covet a clementine or a pineapple spear instead.
That kind of change could only be positive for our nation’s young students and U.S. health policy goals.
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