Report to Congress: Evaluation of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program
To promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption among the Nation’s schoolchildren, the Nutrition Title of the 2002 Farm Act provided $6 million for USDA to award to schools through a Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program (FVPP) for the 2002-03 school year. The FVPP provided fresh and dried fruits and fresh vegetables free to children in 107 elementary and secondary schools—100 schools in 4 States (25 each in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio) and 7 schools in the Zuni Indian Tribal Organization (ITO) in New Mexico. Pilot funds were allocated to each school on a per student basis, that amounted to $94 per student. The intent of the pilot is to determine the feasibility of such a program and its success as determined by the students’ interest in participating.
Most participating schools consider the pilot program to be very successful and feel strongly that the pilot should continue. The pilot included only schools that volunteered and applied to participate. Consequently, they may not be representative of nonpilot schools. Pilot sites were, however, chosen to represent a mix of large and small, rural, suburban, and urban elementary, middle, and high schools. The participating schools also included students from diverse ethnic backgrounds and family income levels, as assessed by the proportion of students certified as eligible for free and reduced-price lunches.
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) is responsible for evaluating the pilot. This report provides the results of ERS’s review, based on analyses of administrative school records, December reports, February reports, site visits to schools, focus groups, interviews, and a conference of pilot program managers, other pilot staff, and policy stakeholders.