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Area schools receive grant to provide fruits, vegetables for students

Rick Wagner • Jul 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Students at six greater Tri-Cities schools soon will be eating more fruits and vegetables, thanks to a federal grant.

The students in Hawkins County, Johnson City and Kingsport are among Tennessee students who will get an extra dose of fruits and vegetables during the 2013-14 school year. The state has been awarded $3.3 million in federal funds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to schools with the highest rates of students participating in free and reduced lunch. The state will allocate funds to 159 schools in 29 districts that applied to take part in this program.

All told, the local schools got $93,150.

Kingsport’s Roosevelt Elementary is among the winning schools.

“Kingsport City Schools has received $13,850 to be used at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School” for 2013-14, said Jennifer Burleson, director of school nutrition services.

“The funding will allow tasting opportunities of a wide array of fruits and vegetables that students may not experience in their homes,” Burleson said via email. “In providing these snacks and education, we are hoping to educate not only students, but families. This funding is also used to provide healthy party trays of fruits and vegetables, and students receive daily fruits and vegetables during TCAP testing.”

In Hawkins County, Joseph Rogers Primary School, Keplar Elementary and Mooresburg Elementary are participating, as was announced at a Hawkins County school board meeting last month.

The grant amounts are $21,700 for Rogers, $5,250 for Keplar and $12,950 for Mooresburg.

In Johnson City, Mountain View Elementary and North Side Elementary were chosen for the program. Mountain View will get $23,000, while North Side will get $16,400.

Students at participating schools will receive a fresh fruit or vegetable at some point during the school day other than a regular meal, according to a news release from the state Department of Education.

The program allows students to sample fresh produce they might not otherwise be able to access. Students could snack on anything from fresh broccoli and peppers to cauliflower and peaches.

“We see students pick up a kiwi or blood orange with wonder,” Sarah White, Tennessee’s director of school nutrition, said in a news release. “Those same students then go home and tell their parents about the fresh fruit or vegetable they tried at school. This program not only exposes students to fresh food; it exposes entire families.”

Schools will be awarded $50 per child based on enrollment to provide this produce over the course of the school year. Each school can decide when and where to deliver the produce to students.

The highest concentration of schools receiving money for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program are in Shelby County, where 69 schools will receive a portion of the grant, and Davidson County, where 19 schools will participate. Other participating schools are in districts across the state.

The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and combats childhood obesity by helping children learn healthy eating habits. It began nationally in 2002 with four states piloting the program, but it has grown to include select schools in 50 states.

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