NEW YORK – The Urban School Food Alliance (the Alliance), a coalition of the largest school districts in the United States (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas, Orange County in Orlando and Broward County in the greater Fort Lauderdale area) celebrates Fresh Attitude Week from May 8-12, 2017. In collaboration with the French Department of Agriculture and in partnership with Interfel (French Inter-Branch Association of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables which created Fresh Attitude Week), Fresh Attitude Week has become an annual event in America, along with France and Italy, to highlight and increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in schools. This year, the three Alliance districts in Florida will host a French delegation in an ongoing international cultural exchange.
“We’re excited to celebrate the third annual Fresh Attitude Week in America,” says Alliance Treasurer Lora Gilbert, who also serves as senior director of Food and Nutrition Services at Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Fla. “Last year, the French representatives visited schools in New York and Chicago, and this year, they will have a chance to experience the offerings of an agricultural state like Florida. We are committed to learning from the French as they are from us, further strengthening both countries’ commitment to serving, quality, healthy food in schools.”
During their Florida tour, the French delegation will meet educators and visit schools to learn how chef-to-school programs and campus gardens play important roles in food service. They will also have an opportunity to meet farmers and visit local farms where school food is sourced.
“Our partnership in implementing Fresh Attitude Week is an extraordinary opportunity for sharing our experiences to elevate fruits and vegetables in school meals,” said Bruno Dupont, president of Interfel. “It is always very interesting and rewarding to observe how our counterparts do it abroad. Discovering and sharing the importance of fruits and vegetables are the essence of Fresh Attitude Week’s identity. This project stems from the primary wish to raise awareness about a balanced diet for better public health no matter the country: Fresh Attitude Week, by definition, has no border.”
Fresh Attitude Week celebrations have helped raise the popularity of produce in school meals. The Alliance districts increased fresh fruits and vegetable consumption in schools during Fresh Attitude Week by nearly 46 percent, from 5.9 million servings in 2015 to 8.6 million servings in 2016.
Studies show that the more young people try various fruits and vegetables, the more likely they are to continue consuming them later in life. For Fresh Attitude Week, the seven school districts in the Alliance will conduct the following activities:
- Serve new fresh fruits and vegetables during breakfast and lunch
- Feature unique fresh salad offerings
- Highlight student-created vegetable recipes
- Host local farmers visits to educate students about “farm-to-school” efforts
- Showcase food art in dining rooms
- Offer fresh and healthy recipes from France and around the country for families to try at home
Of their total annual budget of $592 million in food and food supplies, the Urban School Food Alliance districts purchase more than $76 million worth of fruits and vegetables a year. More than 50 percent of the produce are locally sourced.
In 2014, the French Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry invited members of the Urban School Food Alliance to visit France to observe how the French government and the fruit and vegetable sector promote food awareness and healthy eating in schools. In particular, classes encourage French students to sample a variety of food items using their five senses and to share their experience with their peers, ultimately strengthening the food culture of France for future generations.
About the Urban School Food Alliance
The Urban School Food Alliance was created by school food professionals in 2012 to address the unique needs of the nation’s largest school districts. The nonprofit group allows the districts to share best practices and leverage their purchasing power to continue to drive quality up and costs down while incorporating sound environmental practices. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas as well as Miami-Dade, Orange County and Broward County in Florida, together offer service in over 4,765 schools to 3.1 million children daily. This translates to more than half a billion meals a year. The coalition aims to ensure that all public school students across the nation receive healthy, nutritious meals through socially responsible practices. To learn more about the Urban School Food Alliance or to support its work, please visit www.urbanschoolfoodalliance.org.
Interfel (French Inter-Branch Association of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables) is the lead promotional organization for fresh fruits and vegetables in France, representing all aspects of the sector from production to distribution, including school canteens and education in schools. www.lesfruitsetlegumesfrais.com / www.interfel.com
Source: Interfel & Urban School Food Alliance