New Jersey has had a program to put fresh produce on school menus since 2008. The goal is to introduce children to healthy foods, increase their fruit and vegetable consumption, and create improved eating patterns. This year an additional 36 schools are taking part in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, bringing the total to 202, the most since the program began. The participating schools are in 16 counties, including new additions in Gloucester and Somerset counties. More than 100,000 students will benefit this school year.
The participating schools must provide Jersey Fresh produce on a minimum of six days from September to November and from April to June and must verify where the produce was grown. The criteria used in selecting schools for the program include elementary schools with 50% 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; all students having access to the produce offered; and plans to partner with outside organizations to enhance nutrition education.