“Orange you going to eat your fruits and veggies today?” Students at 16 different elementary schools throughout Chesterfield County Public Schools will be tasting different fruits and veggies throughout the week of Oct. 9-12 during lunch. Samplings will be offered to more than 10,000 students throughout the participating schools, which include those that have 30 percent or higher free or reduced lunches.
“Fruit and Veggie Week is an important program that highlights the importance of consuming fruits and vegetables and encourages all students to try new things and make healthier choices,” said School Board Chair Dr. Javaid Siddiqi. “We have put a major focus on integrating wellness into all of our classrooms throughout the county, and this program is only one of the many ways we will be introducing students to new and healthier options, as we recognize the inherent relationship between health and wellbeing and strong academics.”
In addition to this special week-long celebration, Chesterfield County Public Schools also participates in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). Currently, there are three elementary schools in Chesterfield County that receive grants to provide all students in the selected schools with a wide variety of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables. FFVP is an important tool in efforts to combat childhood obesity, and the program has been successful in introducing school children to a variety of produce.
“There’s a growing body of research that links physical activity to immediate and long-term benefits on a student’s academic performance, which means: healthy kids learn better,” said Superintendent Dr. James Lane. “The week of tastings encourages students to try new foods, make healthier choices and gives them a low risk opportunity to try items that can be found in our school cafeterias. Our wellness initiatives continue to encourage a healthy lifestyle for not only our students, but our families as well.”
Since 2014, Chesterfield County Public Schools has focused on integrating wellness into the classroom. The school system created the Wellness Council, which was comprised of 125 stakeholders from across the region, and many of the recommendations from the council are currently being implemented throughout the county.
Chesterfield County Public Schools was recently recognized by Virginia’s First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe with a 2017 Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) Food for Thought Award. The school division was one of six winning divisions from across the state that took part in the competition that seeks to educate, engage and empower school leaders to address childhood hunger and provide all students in Virginia with healthier, more nutritious school meals. Chesterfield County Public Schools was recognized as the top division in Wellness and Physical Activity for a student population above 10,000.
Below are the schools that will be participating in Fruit and Veggie Week: