USDA to test adding canned, frozen produce in federal school snack program

Schools participating in the USDA's Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program are reimbursed for providing free fresh fruits and vegetables during the school day.

WASHINGTON–The U.S. Department of Agriculture is moving ahead with a new pilot program to test the impact of opening up the popular school fruit and vegetable program to canned, frozen or dried fruits and vegetables.

Schools selected to participate in USDA's Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program are reimbursed for providing free fresh fruits and vegetables during the school day. The 2014 farm bill, signed Feb. 7 by President Obama, directed USDA to carry out a pilot program in FFVP-participating schools to examine the impact on children from widening the offerings to canned, frozen or dried fruits and vegetables.

When the farm bill passed, the American Frozen Food Institute lauded Congress for voting to include a one-year, $5 million pilot program in elementary schools across five states to test the efficacy of serving, canned, dried and frozen fruits and vegetables as snacks to low-income school children.

"On behalf of U.S. frozen fruit and vegetable producers, AFFI commends Congress for taking this important step towards establishing a new long-term initiative to improve childhood nutrition by providing schools with the opportunity to offer children the widest possible variety of healthy fruit and vegetable snacks, including frozen," said Kraig Naasz, president and chief executive officer of AFFI.