Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of United Fresh, issued the following statement in response to USDA Secretary Vilsack’s announcement today (9/8/15) at the National Press Club.
“United Fresh applauds Secretary Vilsack’s message today urging Congress to move forward, not back, to strengthen child nutrition programs in the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization. So much progress has been made in recent years to implement healthier school meals and snacks; kids and their parents are counting on us not to give up now.
Schools serving a variety of great tasting fresh fruits and vegetables – often providing kids with choices in a fruit and veggie/salad bar – have been highly successful in meeting the modest requirement of including at least ½ cup of a fruit and vegetable in school lunch. When public health authorities call for us to consume half our plate in fruits and vegetables, how could anyone think it’s too much to provide our kids ½ cup? Without that modest portion in a lunch, health professionals would be embarrassed to call it a meal. Today, children in America eat less than half the daily amount of fruits and vegetables recommended for their health. It’s critically important that children have access to more fruits and vegetables and at least a ½ cup at every meal.
We also urge Congress to support the decade-long success of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). This highly effective, evidence based, nutrition program benefits 4 million lower-income elementary students a day, introducing them to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Since the 2002 Farm Bill implemented this program, schools have found the FFVP a key to encouraging children to try and enjoy more fruits and vegetables, helping create healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
The produce industry is committed to help schools create healthier school food environments. Through Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, we and our partners have donated salad bars to more than 4,000 schools nationwide to expand children’s access and consumption of fruits and vegetables and improve their overall health. United Fresh Produce Association is committed to working with Chairmen Roberts and Kline and Ranking Members Stabenow and Scott and their Committees to ensure that child nutrition programs continue to help our nation’s children adopt healthy, lifelong eating habits.”