USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program: where the money is going

03/25/2011 10:28:02 AM
Tom Karst

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is one of those "too good to be true" stories for the fresh produce industry.

The program is embraced by policymakers and the USDA as a critical piece in the fight against childhood obesity and improving the diets of elementary school students.

For the upcoming school year, the program will be funded at $158 million, an increase of about $50 million compared to the 2010-11 school year.

The increase in funding was prescribed by the 2008 farm bill, which ramped up funding to the program to its current maximum level.

United Fresh and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance have not indicated what they want to see happen with funding for the program in the next farm bill. One assumes that Lorelei Disogra and company will want more children served with free fruits and vegetables.

The USDA has said the additional funds for the 2011-12 school year will allow the program to serve an additional 600,000 to 950,000 children. In total, the program will serve upwards of 2.5 million children fresh fruits and vegetables each school day of the year.

The Obama administration and members of Congress are interested in creating greater opportunity for "local" growers to provide fruits and vegetables for the program, so that is one element that will frame debate about the benefits of the program going forward.

A comprehensive USDA evaluation of the program is also expected by the end of this year. From anecdotal reports we hear now, that evaluation should be positive. I would be interested if any schools serving students from low income households are challenged to devote the necessary resources to adequately execute the program.

Meanwhile, the buyers and sellers of produce are probably most interested in the dollars involved. Below is the list of amounts awarded to each state and also, from California, the 2010-11 funds allocated to participating school districts.

2011/2012 FFVP planned allocations by State
Alabama - $2,763,159
Alaska - $1,755,808
Arizona - $3,162,258
Arkansas - $2,301,796
California - $10,801,714
Colorado - $2,824,910
Connecticut - $2,464,720
Delaware - $1,802,271
District of Columbia - $1,728,948
Florida - $6,234,011
Georgia - $3,978,048
Hawaii - $1,916,724
Idaho - $1,968,034
Illinois - $4,756,050
Indiana - $3,184,978
Iowa - $2,334,084
Kansas - $2,286,251
Kentucky - $2,654,152
Louisiana - $2,702,175
Maine - $1,908,818
Maryland - $3,009,165
Massachusetts - $3,200,777
Michigan - $4,026,562
Minnesota - $2,892,915
Mississippi - $2,314,514
Missouri - $3,062,478
Montana - $1,824,916
Nebraska - $2,032,086
Nevada - $2,248,485
New Hampshire - $1,905,874
New Jersey - $3,756,315
New Mexico - $2,089,722
New York - $6,376,788
North Carolina - $3,940,380
North Dakota - $1,746,491
Ohio - $4,435,706
Oklahoma - $2,508,596
Oregon - 2,528,331
Pennsylvania - $4,724,303
Rhode Island - $1,840,549
South Carolina - $2,724,946
South Dakota - $1,781,539
Tennessee - $3,150,893
Texas - $7,804,444
Utah - $2,264,162
Vermont - $1,734,894
Virginia - $3,560,546
Washington - $3,244,569
West Virginia - $2,038,684
Wisconsin - $2,987,737
Wyoming - $1,719,518
Puerto Rico - $922,269
Guam - $44,771
Virgin Islands - $27,167
Source: USDA



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