USDA Launches Free Fruit, Veggie School Program to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
The Department of Agriculture has chosen four states -- Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio -- to participate in a one-year, $6 million federal program to provide free fruit and vegetables to public school students to encourage healthy eating habits, the Indianapolis Star reports. Under the initiative, schools chosen by the USDA to participate will be required to provide the fruits and vegetables "at times other than at lunch." Kathy Fiorito, a public affairs specialist at the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, said, "The school lunch already has components of fruits and vegetables." She added that poor eating habits can lead to obesity, which can follow children into adulthood. According to a 1999 surgeon general's report, about 13% of children ages 6 to 11 and 14% of children ages 12 to 19 were obese. Beth Wathen, a program director for the Indiana University Center for Weight Management and a registered dietician, said, "The more kids see fruits and vegetables, then the more they will become like second nature to them" (Czark, Indianapolis Star, 7/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.