I love fresh fruits and vegetables and my students often comment on what I bring to school each day. My school district is urban, challenging, complex and has limited supermarkets. Corner stores and liquor stores outnumber food stores in every neighborhood. It is often called a food desert, void of fresh produce.
Green apples are my favorite, along with Pink Ladies and Red Delicious, to name a few. One day, a student came rushing through my door as I was munching on a juicy, green apple. He stopped, forgetting what it was that brought him to the health office, and said: “what are you eating?” I was a bit surprised at his response when I told him I was eating an apple. He said, “You can’t be, apples are red.” I tried to convince him that actually, apples come in lots of colors and flavors, but he was not a believer.
This student was so adamant that apples are only red that I told him to come back the next day and I would prove that apples come in lots of colors. My student was in 4th grade. I went home from school that day and headed straight to the supermarket. I picked out apples in every color I could find, and they were plentiful, where I shop, not where this student lived.
As I placed each colorful apple in the bags, I could not help but feel sad that my student had minimal exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables. As excited as I was to bring the apples to school the next day, I was that disturbed by lack of access to fresh produce. I was deep in Relentless School Nursing mode and determined to find a solution.
The next day came and in walks my friend, the 4th grader who believed that apples were only red. He was thrilled to see the colorful display that I laid out on my desk. I told him that I hoped he would bring the apples home and share them with his family. We are as good as our word, and I felt really great that day because I had kept my promise to this student.
I also found the solution to my problem, it came in the shape of a grant from the USDA, called FFVP – The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. It is a nationwide program through the USDA to expose students to fresh fruits and vegetables in their natural state. The grant allows for one fruit and one vegetable to be introduced to students weekly with an accompanying curriculum. https://www.fns.usda.gov/ffvp/fresh-fruit-and-vegetable-program