Beginning this school year, the IPS Food Service Department can no longer use money from its budget to operate the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) at schools that do not meet the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) eligibility requirements. The change took effect August 5.

The FFVP, funded by the USDA, is used by the district to introduce new fruits and vegetables to IPS students. It is a daily snack — not an additional meal — that is offered to Grades Pre-K through 6 during the school day.

Since the 2014–15 school year, Food Service has used money from its budget to supplement the program at schools that didn’t meet eligibility requirements and to students in Grades 7–8. However, IPS Food Service received notice this summer from the USDA that supplementing the FFVP for non-eligible schools and students was no longer permissible.

The change in FFVP DOES NOT affect the district’s free breakfast and lunch program provided to all IPS students. Through the breakfast and lunch program, students — even those no longer eligible for the FFVP — receive the USDA’s daily recommendation of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Foodservice Department operates under the guidance of the USDA and is solely funded by federal reimbursement dollars.

Eligibility requirements for the FFVP include a school having at least 50-percent of its students certified as eligible for free and reduced meal prices. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) selects eligible schools throughout Indiana, not just IPS, to receive the FFVP. Because of limited funds, not every school that applies and is eligible is selected.

While we are disappointed with the cancellation of this program affecting a portion of IPS schools, we encourage all students to take advantage of the many fruit and vegetable choices available at breakfast and lunch to help fuel them for the day.