As families become increasingly aware of the health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program offers a way to introduce these healthier choices to students at school.
The program, run by the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation, started as a pilot in 2005 with 10 schools and continues this fall with 1,376 public and First Nations schools participating.
Funded by the BC Ministry of Health under Healthy Families BC, the program delivers fruits and vegetables every other week (13 times during the school year) to 492,000 students on the program.
Produce for fall 2012 deliveries includes: BC plums, peaches, strawberry tomatoes, mini peppers, baby carrots, apples, pears, and new to the program this year, BC table grapes.
"The kids are always excited on veggie day" said Bonnie Tejszerski, a teacher at Edwin S. Richards Elementary in Mission. "Our kitchen is located close to the school gym so as we are preparing the items several classes walk by and they always ask what we have and cheer, asking when we're bringing it down."
"We really get the sense that the Program is building a huge change in the attitudes of both teachers and students towards healthy eating" said the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation's Board President, Sarah Ryall. "The response from the schools has been overwhelming with close to 1,400 K-12 public and First Nations schools across the Province enrolled. The exciting part is the response from children. There is an infectious reaction when new fruits or vegetables are tasted in the classroom with their friends. They just love it! And of course delight in sharing their enthusiasm and experience with their families at the grocery store."