By Mary Kay Gominger, Public Affairs Director, FNS Western Regional Office
It’s the age-old question – how to get children to eat more fruit? We all know the benefits of a diet that’s rich in fruit. At least adults do. Convincing children to add more fruit to their diet is another challenge. The food nutrition experts at the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands enticed their school children to eat more fruit by serving fruit smoothies.
Last year, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands received a USDA School Breakfast Expansion Grant in the amount of $199,920. The CNMI public school system is using the funds to purchase blenders and other needed equipment for all their schools so they can add fruit smoothies as a breakfast menu item. They are also providing training to staff and developing culturally appropriate smoothie recipes. Their goal is to increase breakfast participation, increase fruit consumption at breakfast, and ultimately make fruit a regular part of the students’ breakfast routines at school and at home.
“This USDA School Breakfast Expansion Grant allows us to add fruit smoothies to our breakfast menu and so far, we’ve gotten a good response,” said Dale Roberts, CNMI’s child nutrition program director. “The grant funding is for two years and though we’ve had a slow start rolling it out, due to supply chain issues, we will soon offer fresh fruit smoothies at all of our schools.”
Earlier this month, USDA announced the opening of this year’s School Breakfast Expansion Grants for U.S. Territories. Nearly $2.8 million is available for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.
Information about the grant and how to apply can be found on the Grants.gov website. Applications are due July 13, 2022.