Five Ottumwa schools are participating in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program (FFVP). The program provides all children in participating schools with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. All items will be served in addition to the regular lunch serving four days a week.
Ottumwa’s total allocation is over $116,000.00 for the five schools, including Douma, Liberty, James, Wilson, and Pickwick Early Childhood Center. The allocation reflects the number of students enrolled in the school, the number of days snack is provided, and the district’s previous utilization of grant funds. Yvonne Johnson, the district’s Director of Food and Nutrition Services, feels strongly about this program and the benefit to students. Through the efforts of Johnson and other school nutrition professionals advocating the importance of the program, the USDA continues to fund the program.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the goal of the FFVP is to introduce children to fresh fruits and vegetables, to include new and different varieties, and to increase overall acceptance and consumption of fresh, unprocessed produce among children. The program also encourages healthier school environments by promoting nutrition education.
Ottumwa serves fruits and vegetables to students in the afternoon. “Anytime we can provide a fresh fruit or fresh vegetable to students during the school day is an essential win," said Johnson. "The idea is that students will be educated on the importance of eating fresh produce and then gravitate towards that healthier choice."