One hopes that fresh produce lobbyists can hold off the Senate amendment and preserve the fresh-only status of the program when the House and Senate farm bills go to conference.
After all, the USDA’s evaluation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program says processed fruits and vegetables were never part of the plan.
From that report:
The stated intent of FFVP is to provide children with free fresh fruits and vegetables. Program funds may not be used to purchase: 1) other non-fruit or vegetable products, such as nuts or cottage cheese;2) products like trail mix, fruit or vegetable pizza, or smoothies in which fruits or vegetables are commingled with other types of foods; 3) processed/prepared fruit and vegetable products such as canned, frozen, dried, or vacuum-packed fruits and vegetables, fruit leather or jellies, or fruit with added flavorings; or 4) fruit or vegetable juices. Dips for fruits are not permitted under FFVP requirements, but small amounts of low fat dips for vegetables are acceptable. Schools may serve cooked vegetables once per week, but only as part of a nutrition education lesson (USDA, 2010).
Schools are explicitly encouraged to distribute a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, including new and unusual fruits and vegetables to which students might not otherwise be exposed. Finally, fruits and vegetables are to be prepared and presented in a way that maximizes convenience and appeal whenever possible. This may include preslicing or cutting fruits or vegetables to make them easier for students to eat (USDA, 2010).
Does the program work? The USDA says:
The analysis found strong evidence that fruit and vegetable consumption was higher among students in FFVP schools. Students in FFVP schools consumed approximately one-third of a cup (0.32 cups) more fruits and vegetables on FFVP days than students in comparable schools not participating in the program (Exhibit ES.1). FFVP appears to have been especially effective in improving fruit consumption, with approximately a quarter cup (0.26 cups) of the total impact on fruit and vegetable intake coming from fruits.
To sum up, the stated intent of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is to provide children with free fresh fruits and vegetables, and the program is working as it is to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Could that be any more clear? Leave more than well enough alone, and leave the canned cream corn on the shelf.