In a continuous effort to improve the nutrition of school children, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture announced 168 NJ schools will be participating in the 2020-2021 school year’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP).

Since its introduction in 2008, the FFVP has aimed to introduce children to healthy food, increase their fruit and vegetable consumption and create improved lifelong dietary habits among the youth.

“The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program encourages students to try new offerings so they can develop healthy eating patterns that stay with them for a lifetime,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture, Douglas H. Fisher. “This program has generated excitement and enthusiasm during meal times while creating a pathway for better food choices.”

This year, the United States Department of Agriculture has allocated $4,691,210 towards the FFVP. With this funding, the program is able to provide fresh produce to about 85,000 students in 14 different counties throughout the day. This is the largest participation year yet. Of the one dozen schools participating in Mercer County this year, 10 are located in the City of Trenton.

The schools chosen to participate were chosen by specific criteria; some of which include elementary schools with 50 percent or more of their students eligible for free or reduced-price meals; schools that planned to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables as much as possible; schools where all students have access to the produce offered and schools that plan to partner with outside organizations to enhance nutrition education.

For additional funding, schools can connect their FFVP with the Farm to School Program. To fulfill this requirement, the schools must provide Jersey Fresh produce a minimum of two days each month from September to November and from April to June and must verify where the produce was grown. So far, 81 percent of the 168 participating schools have agreed to link their FFVP with the Farm to School Program.

To view all 168 schools participating in this year’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, Click here.