New York Congressional Delegation Calls on Senate and House Appropriations Committees to expand the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable School Snack Program to New York State
Program would provide new funding to schools to allow them to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers and to provide them as healthy snacks for kids during the school day
Washington, DC - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congressman Brian Higgins today announced that they had convened a bipartisan coalition of New York's Congressional Delegation calling for New York to be included in a national healthy school food program.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (FFVSP) provides federal funding to schools to allow them to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers and to provide them as healthy snacks for kids during the school day. Currently there are 14 states participating in the program.
In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate and House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees, the Members of Congress called on them to include New York State in the program and incorporate an additional $1 million in funding for the program in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2007 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.
“New York has been waiting for years to get the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program implemented in our state - our kids shouldn't have to wait any longer,” Senator Clinton said. “New York State is an innovator in grassroots farm-to-school programs and schools throughout our state have shown great initiative when it comes to incorporating fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables into their school meal programs. Inclusion in this program will not only bring more nutritious snacks to New York's school children, it will also help build institutional markets for our family farmers.”
"The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program will provide New York's kids with nutritious snacks that have previously been unavailable to them. Our kids deserve the quality this program offers in their lives, helping them become healthier at a young age. This program will also provide a new market for our farmers, many of whom are Western New Yorkers, which will strengthen our state and region's agricultural economy," Congressman Higgins said.
The FFVSP, which would improve children's health and encourage healthy eating habits, would be especially effective in New York State where, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 percent of New York high-school students are overweight or obese, often leading to chronic health problems. FFVSP would also help strengthen New York State's agricultural economy. New York is a leading producer of specialty crops, ranking 2nd nationally in apple production, 3rd in grape production, 4th in pear production and 6th in fresh vegetable production. New York farmers are eager to develop new institutional markets, and FFVSP will help them to do so.
[A copy of the letter is attached]
2 August 2006
Dear Chairman Bennett, Chairman Bonilla, Ranking Member Kohl and Ranking Member DeLauro:
We are writing to urge you to expand the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (FFVSP) to include New York State at a funding level of $1 million for fiscal year 2007.
As you know, the FFVSP was originally initiated as a four-state pilot program in the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act. Because it was such a success, Congress converted the pilot to a full program in the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization of 2004 and expanded funding to include four additional states. With your support, the program was expanded again to add six additional states last year, through the fiscal year 2006 Agriculture Appropriations bill.
Currently, the House has requested a $25 million funding level for FFVSP in the fiscal year 2007 Agriculture Appropriations bill, H.R. 5384, with a recommendation that the program be expanded to all 50 states at $500,000 per state. The Senate bill includes language supporting the program's expansion to three additional states at a funding level of $1 million per state, totaling $18 million. While New York was not included as one of the three new pilot states in the Senate version of the bill, it deserves serious consideration to receive funding for the FFVSP because of the great size and need of the student population and the importance of New York's agriculture sector to its economy. Our hope is that the funding level for the FFVSP will be expanded beyond the Senate requested level and that funding in the amount of $1 million will be added to extend the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable School Snack Program to New York State.
The FFVSP is important for improving the health of our nation's children and it would be especially effective in New York State. It is a well established fact that obesity and related illnesses have risen dramatically among children in the United States in recent years. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 percent of New York high-school students and 58 percent of New York adults are overweight or obese.
The USDA Dietary Guidelines released last year recommend an increase in the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables that studies have shown are important for a healthy diet, for cancer prevention, and for decreasing the risk of other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Access to fresh fruits and vegetables in schools will not only improve the nutrition of children, but will also establish healthy eating habits that children can take home to their families and that will benefit them for the rest of their life.
New York State is an innovator of grassroots farm-to-school programs, but it needs assistance in expanding these efforts. New York schools have shown great initiative to incorporate fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables into their meal programs. For example, the New York City Office of School Food, which serves meals to more than 1.2 million children every day, has been successful in introducing locally grown New York apple slices into its school meals programs, but it can do so only on a limited basis. The apples have been extremely well received by the kids and there is a large desire to implement programs like it in more schools across the state, if funding were made available.
In addition, FFVSP would help strengthen New York State's agricultural economy. New York is a leading producer of specialty crops, ranking 2nd nationally in apple production, 3rd in grape production, 4th in pear production and 6th in fresh vegetable production. Our farmers are eager to develop new institutional markets, and programs like FFVSP will allow them to do so. This will undoubtedly benefit New York State, which produces over $3 billion in agriculture products annually.
We appreciate your consideration of this request and your shared desire to reduce childhood obesity and start kids on a path to wellness. As you work towards Senate passage and a conference report on the two versions of the Agriculture Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2007, we encourage you to support additional funding in the amount of $1 million to extend the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable School Snack Program to include New York State. We look forward to working with you.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Brian M. Higgins
Charles E. Schumer
Michael R. McNulty
John M. McHugh
Louise McIntosh Slaughter
Gary L. Ackerman
Nydia M. Velázquez
Eliot L. Engel
John R. Kuhl
Thomas M. Reynolds
Anthony D. Weiner
Peter T. King
Timothy H. Bishop
Sue W. Kelly
Major R. Owens
Charles B. Rangel
Gregory W. Meeks