Seattle to use Sweetened Beverage Tax revenues for fresh fruits and vegetables for kids
Students at up to 19 Seattle elementary schools will get extra servings of fresh fruits and vegetables at school this year thanks to the Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax. The City of Seattle has partnered with Seattle Public Schools to offer the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to all Seattle elementary schools where 50 percent or more students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. This program expansion is being funded by revenues from the Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax and means up to 7,000 more students will have the opportunity to eat healthier during the school day.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program makes produce snacks available to students during the school day—at times other than breakfast and lunch—at no cost to them or their families. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and typically only funds a handful of Seattle elementary schools. For the 2018-2019 school year, only six elementary schools, serving approximately 2200 students, are funded by the USDA grant. The City of Seattle’s support marks a major expansion and potentially will serve an additional 7,000 students at the 19 schools. Seattle has earmarked over $350,000 to fund the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program for this school year.
This program marks a new partnership between Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle, which launched the flagship healthy food access program Fresh Bucks in 2012. Fresh Bucks provides vouchers to Seattle residents and families with low incomes so they can buy more fruits and vegetables at Seattle farmers markets and participating retailers.
The goal of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is to introduce children to fresh fruits and vegetables, to include new and different varieties, and to increase overall acceptance and consumption of fresh, unprocessed produce among children. Research has shown that eating a balanced, healthy diet has a direct effect on academic performance. More information about this program can be found here.