March 23, 2011

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Over $6 Million For Fresh Fruits And Vegetables For New York Schools

Schumer, Gillibrand Hail Funding Increase as Step towards Improving Children’s Health and Fighting Childhood Obesity

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand today announced that the USDA is expanding funding for its Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program including allocating $6,736,788 for the New York State Department of Education’s programs in New York. The Fruit and Vegetable Program provides fresh produce to low-income elementary schools. With this significant additional funding, the program will serve an additional 600,000-950,000 students nationwide, including thousands in New York. Schumer and Gillibrand said that this funding was an important step towards improving children’s health and fighting childhood obesity.
 
“Obesity and diabetes are exploding and driving up health care costs. We need to teach our kids the benefits of eating healthy food, not junk food. Having more healthy, nutritional food in our schools is one of the keys to success for our kids, and is an investment in our children’s health,” said Schumer. “Making fruits and vegetables available at low-income schools throughout the day, every day, will fight childhood obesity and save money over the medium and long term.”
 
“The childhood obesity crisis in this country puts our children at serious risk of chronic illnesses, and holds them back from a bright future,” said Senator Gillibrand, the first Senator from New York to Serve on the Senate Agriculture and Nutrition Committee in 40 years. “When we invest in healthy meals for our schoolchildren in the lunchroom, we improve their health, their chances of succeeding in the classroom, and beyond. I will always fight to secure the investments we need to ensure every New York child has access to healthy meals so they can achieve their full potential.”
 
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, authorized and funded under Section 19 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and expanded in recent years as a result of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, operates in selected low-income elementary schools in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  This year, USDA will provide $158 million in assistance to state agencies, including $6,736,788 to the New York State Department of Education. States then select schools to participate based on criteria in the law, including the requirement that each student receives between $50 and $75 worth of fresh produce over the school year.