United Fresh is the voice of the produce industry in shaping nutrition and health policy in Washington, DC. The nation has a commitment to increase fruit and vegetable consumption to “half of the plate,” and we’re working to make that public health goal a reality.
A wide variety of information about nutrition policy can be found in our Nutrition section of our website.
Current Priorities – Healthier School Meals
Capitol Hill has recently been embroiled in a battle over healthier school meals. Fruits and vegetables have become a target, with efforts to repeal some of the new fruit and vegetable requirements for school lunch and breakfast. Increasing children’s fruit and vegetable consumption is a top priority for the country in combating the childhood obesity crisis. Healthier school meals, including more fresh fruits and vegetables, are an important policy lever for accomplishing that goal. Protecting the fruit and vegetable requirements in school meals is a top priority for United Fresh Produce Association.
In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act on a bipartisan basis. This landmark legislation required USDA to update school nutrition standards based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. One of the primary goals of the new school meals nutrition standards, issued in January 2012, was to increase student’s access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables. Specifically, the new nutrition standards require schools to increase the variety and amount of fruits and vegetables served daily and students must select at least a ½ cup of a fruit or a vegetable at breakfast and lunch. USDA estimates that over 90% of schools nationwide are successfully implementing the new school lunch standards.
Unfortunately, the requirement that students must select at least a ½ cup serving of a fruit or vegetable with each meal has already come under attack. The fight over school meals was very contentious throughout the FY’15 House and Senate Agricultural Appropriations Bills and will be center stage again as Congress begins work on the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization, legislation that reauthorizes all child nutrition programs every five years.
United Fresh is working to protect the fruit and vegetable requirements in healthier school meals that are essential to improving children’s health and reducing childhood obesity.