Your View: Expand school fruit program


To the editor:
As involved parents of elementary school students in the Alexandria City Public Schools, we want to express our support for expanding the Jefferson-Houston K-8 School fresh fruit snack program to schools across the city. This program has been very successful at Jefferson-Houston and we believe this success should be replicated to benefit all elementary-aged students in our city.
Superintendent Mort Sherman has included the program in his budget proposal so we hope our school board and community will support this step toward better nutrition in our schools.
The goal of the program is to help students make the connection between staying healthy and eating fresh produce. At Jefferson-Houston, fresh fruits and/or vegetables are currently served three days a week. Theyre served outside the regular breakfast and lunch periods to give the students an extra boost of nutrition between lunch and dismissal.
ACPS nutrition director Becky Domokos-Bays has worked with teachers to find creative ways to incorporate nutrition education into lessons in math, language arts and science. Students routinely sample produce from Virginia and even a few exotic treats like kumquats, rambutan and horned melons. 
Eating healthy food is essential to our childrens proper development and can be an important factor in how well they do in school. Still, many families in Alexandria do not have access to fresh and healthy food.
Nutrition education and exposure to fresh fruit and vegetables can help combat Alexandrias high rates of childhood obesity. In addition to being good policy for the schools, it fits with the citys Healthier Alexandria initiative.

The fresh fruit and vegetable snack program could be an important component of improving learning and eating in ACPS. We hope it will be offered to all of our public elementary school students starting next year.