FROZEN is a great name for an animated Disney movie; it isn’t a great way to serve fruits and vegetables to school age children in the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable (FFVP) snack program. The entire snack program concept revolves around educating a group of customers (children and parents) that FRESH fruits and vegetables are a viable snack alternative to candy and chips. I was appalled that it was even brought up as an amendment to the Farm Bill.
Now let’s be clear – frozen fruits and vegetables have a place in the American diet. They provide a wonderful source of nutrition captured at the peak of the harvest. They also provide an affordable method of supplying fruits and vegetables when they are out of season. With advances in technology, the flavor profiles and convenience factors are amazing.
My issue is with our legislative system. The original intent was to get kids eating FRESH fruits and vegetables – something that many households do not partake in. If we can get kids interested in fresh and if parents can figure out that a 5lb bag of apples costs half of a 5 ounce bag of chips, then we have a winning strategy for all involved. But then a special interest group (or two or more) gets involved and say “Hey, why not my products?” It is simple; your products do not fit the scope of the intended legislation. So these groups lobby to convince some lawmakers to modify the scope and then the entire program loses its meaning.
School breakfast and lunch programs rely heavily on frozen and canned products. The supply is constant and the price is steady, thereby providing a great value. Sounds like a perfect fit. The snack program has a perfect fit as well. We need to keep the legislators frozen out on this one!