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Seattle’s Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program Connects Students to Wholesome Foods and Positive Outcomes

Since Fall 2018, Seattle’s Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program (FFVP) has provided students at participating Seattle Public Schools with over 600,000 pounds of nutritious fruit and vegetable snacks at school throughout the week.  

Through FFVP, students are given over 40 different types of fruit and vegetable snacks throughout the school year. From mango to persimmons to bok choy to winter squash, the program introduces students to foods across cultures and fuels minds. Students who have access to wholesome foods tend to perform better academically, miss fewer school days, and experience enhanced quality of life. 

This past school year, Gurdeep Gill, a Food Systems Design Fellow placed at City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) through a grant from Share our Strength and their No Kid Hungry Campaign., interviewed or surveyed 800 students at 5 schools, kitchen staff at 8 school sites, and administrators from 7 schools to understand the program impacts, learn what students enjoy or would like to see more of on the menu, and identify opportunities to enhance FFVP.  

“Kids get to try new foods and have access to food families wouldn’t have at home,” said one administrator. “There are a lot of families [living] with food insecurity, school can be the only place they get fresh fruits and vegetables”.  

– A Seattle Public Schools Administrator

FFVP Impact Assessment Findings and Recommended Improvements 

The assessment showed that while FFVP has had a positive impact on students, there is a need for improved communications about the program for school staff, students, and parents to raise awareness of the program and provide more food and nutrition education to get students more excited about healthy eating. 

The assessment showed that FFVP increases students’ familiarity with a wider variety of produce items. Overall, the assessment found that FFVP is working, and meeting program goals identified by SBT Community Advisory Board: it increases students’ access to fresh produce, provides opportunities to try new foods, and helps students focus at school.  

The evaluation also co-designed improvements to the program with students and school staff. 

 Enhancements include: 

  • Providing food education books to all participating schools from Readers to Eaters and Nurture Well Center, including “Ayomide and Seyi’s Kitchen: A kids’ guide to plant-based nutrition from A to Z”  
  • Hosting book readings with Dr. Margaret Towolawi, author of “Ayomide and Seyi’s Kitchen” 
  • Distributing food education posters from Feed 7 Generations 
  • Optimizing program marketing and outreach to parents, staff, and students within participating schools with signage and fliers in Amharic, English, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, Traditional Chinese, and Vietnamese from the Vida Agency 
  • Supporting a one-year pilot of sensory & food education workshops at 14 schools with Nurturing Roots 

More about the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program 

In the 2023-24 School Year, the program is increasing access to fresh produce for 5,500 students at 28 schools with high rates of Free & Reduced Lunch eligibility, and schools in SPS Equity Tiers 1 or 2. An average of 71% of students at schools participating in FFVP during the 2023-24 School Year are low-income. Students from Black, Indigenous, and families of color make up 69% of the students at schools participating during the 2023-24 School Year. SPS and OSE are also working to increase the amount of local and organically grown produce served through the program and sourcing more items from underrepresented farmers. 

FFVP is a partnership between SPS Culinary Services and the OSE, supported by funds from Seattle’s Sweetened Beverage Tax (SBT).