Food Fight in DC
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for Michigan Schools in Jeopardy
September 9, 2012
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By: Stacy Sawyer
With children returning to school this week, many of us parents are relieved with the opportunity for our kids to eat a meal or two at school - meals that consist of healthy balanced food choices. Yet that peace of mind that our children are provided fresh fruits and vegetables at school may be in jeopardy this year.
In 2002, Michigan was one of five test states for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, a program that exposes children to fresh produce, not canned, dried, frozen or processed. This pilot was started through the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. The program was expanded in 2004 and became permanent in 2008. Many times this program is providing the only fresh fruits and vegetables some children receive in their diet.
Nearly 150 schools in Michigan participate in the program, most likely schoolchildren right in your area benefit from having these fresh fruits or vegetables available through this program. Not only does this program provide fresh fruits and vegetables, it also teaches children the importance of good nutrition. Learning about how to recognize and choose nutritious foods at a young age leads to developing healthy habits for lifelong benefits.
Unfortunately, some lawmakers in Congress have offered proposals that would cut funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program by one-third and allow other types of foods to be served, which would weaken the program's integrity and our children's health.
There is something you can do about this. Let the Michigan delegation on Capitol Hill know that we want the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to remain funded at its current level. Also, tell them the importance of not opening the program up to include processed foods. Make your voice heard today! Simply call your lawmakers offices and tell them that you're calling about the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Let them know why you support kids having fresh produce available in schools! You can also send an email on this issue to your lawmaker by visiting www.YoureTheCure.org.
Thank you for your help in advocating for this important program. Working together we can help combat childhood obesity and ensure that our children grow up as healthy as they can be!
Stacy Sawyer is the Director of Communications for the American Heart Association. She can be reached at (989) 225-7513.
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