All forms should count in school snack program - The Packer

All forms should count in school snack program

10/24/2011 09:27:00 AM
Amelia Freidline

Tell it to The Packer | Letter to the Editor
Kraig Naasz,
president and chief executive officer,
American Frozen Food Institute
I read with interest the recent editorial regarding the Fruit & Vegetable Snack Program (“Harkin defends fresh, hurts some feelings"). 
As a longtime advocate for the fruit and vegetable industry and past president and CEO of the U.S. Apple Association, I have more than a little familiarity with the issues that both unite and, occasionally, divide various sectors of the produce industry.
As an ardent supporter and board member of the Produce for Better Health Foundation, I have also long aided the industry’s efforts to encourage increased consumption of fruits and vegetables in all their forms, including fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice.
If the primary purpose of the snack program is to introduce schoolchildren to fruits and vegetables, then doesn’t it make sense to expose them to our products in all forms while educating them about the benefits of incorporating more servings into their daily diets for better health? 
For many school districts and the families of children they serve, fresh fruits and vegetables are not always accessible due to seasonality and cost. 
In those instances, we believe making such items as frozen fruit cups available to students serves the purpose of the program.
Further, and with all due respect to those who wish to limit participation, we believe initiatives like the snack program would benefit from the addition of more stakeholders and advocates — especially in today’s fiscal environment. 
As we’ve offered to our friends representing fresh and dried fruits, wouldn’t we be better off joining forces in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill to expand both the funding and reach of this program?
We certainly think so and would be happy to offer the frozen fruit and vegetable industry’s unbridled support.

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