Abt Associates Evaluating National Program to Increase Children's Consumption of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Abt Associates was recently awarded a two-year contract to evaluate the effectiveness of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). Administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the FFVP aims to help combat childhood obesity by distributing free fruits and vegetables and teaching healthful eating habits to students in elementary schools. Abt Associates is conducting the evaluation with project partner the Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Surveys report the obesity rate among U.S. children and adolescents to be above 15 percent, with particular prevalence among lower socioeconomic groups. A key objective of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010 plan is to reduce national childhood obesity rates below five percent. Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce long-term obesity risk. The FFVP provides funding to elementary schools with high percentages of students from low-income households. Participating schools offer fresh fruits and vegetables to students during the school day, outside of normal school breakfast and lunch meals. The primary FFVP goals, as stated by FNS, are to:
- Create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices.
- Expand the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience.
- Increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption.
- Make a difference in children’s diets to impact their present and future health.