July 22, 2013 15:17 by Nina
Hunger is one of the largest and most tangible obstacles when it comes to students and learning. In response to this problem, new federal and state funding has created the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in order to provide students with fruits, vegetables, breakfasts and summer meals.
In past years, studies have shown hunger is a contributing factor to poor student performance, especially in areas of high poverty. This program will be a great addition to school districts and will hopefully increase student productivity and promote better grades.
“Often the only place students – especially ones from economically disadvantaged households – can get nutritious food is at school,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said. “Students too preoccupied with hunger don’t learn as well as well-nourished children.” Torlakson announced, in California, $12.5 million would be given in state and federal grants, enabling hundreds of school sites to provide nutritious food to students.
One the largest contributions of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is $11.4 million going to 367 elementary schools in California, allowing them to buy produce to offer students free snacks during the school day. Another 82 K-12 CA school sites will share more than $1 million in grants to fund the start-up or expansion of school breakfast programs and summer food programs.
The largest obstacle in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program has been the breakfast portion. According to the California Food Policy Advocates, out of eligible students, 70-percent of students take their free or reduced-price lunch, where only 30-percent take breakfast. Some schools try and resolve this issue by offering a “second chance breakfast” during a mid-morning break. In most schools, this initiative has seen participation rates of more than 80-percent.
Diane Woloshin, Director of Nutrition Services at the Alameda County Public Health Department stresses the importance of eating breakfast. “We know there is a huge connection between eating breakfast and improving API scores in schools. Children who eat breakfast are more attentive and better able to concentrate,” she said. “We are strong proponents of universal breakfast and breakfast in the classroom.”
To learn more about the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, read the full article here.