Plums, apples, carrots and lemon water are just a few produce items third graders at Eugene Field Elementary School were thankful for during their summer school program.
Sabina Garrett, child nutrition program director for Altus Public Schools in Oklahoma, was invited to a classroom for a special surprise June 14.
“I was so excited,” said Garrett. “I was asked to come to the classroom so the students could tell us how much they enjoy and appreciate the food we served during breakfast and snack meals. This is a perfect example of the impact we are making at the lower grade levels by incorporating fruits and vegetables into their mindset.”
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s Subsistence supply chain buys and distributes fresh produce to schools in 48 states, including Oklahoma, as part of the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program.
The USDA depends on the Subsistence team to procure produce for schools like those in the Altus district.
One third-grader wrote in a letter to Garret, “Thank you for the bananas, lemon water, apples, grapes and plums. The plums are my favorite fruit you have. Thank you for caring for the kids.”
Sylvia Duran is a Subsistence field representative and works with Garrett to ensure her schools receive quality produce that meet the USDA’s nutritional standards. Garret forwarded the student’s notes of thanks to Duran.
“When you realize your hard work in working with the schools, and working with the vendors to provide good, quality produce to these schools for this program are so appreciated by the students, teachers and staff, it is an amazing feeling,” said Duran.
The FF&V program has grown in Oklahoma, from delivering $860,000 of produce in the 2003-2004 school year to $2.25 million this past year, Duran said.
In addition to the Summer Food Service program, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service offers fresh produce to schools through the National School Lunch program and the School Breakfast program.
The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam also participate in the DOD FF&V program.