Monday, May 18th marked the launch of America’s first annual celebration of Fresh Attitude Week in six of the country’s largest public school districts: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando. Together forming the Urban School Food Alliance (USFA), these six districts teamed up with the French organization responsible for creating Fresh Attitude Week, The Inter-Branch Association of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (Interfel), in order to promote the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among American youth and to replicate the success Interfel’s event has enjoyed in France for the past 11 years since its inauguration, and also in Italy since last year. This new transatlantic collaboration was the result of the USFA’s visit to France in October 2014 at the invitation of the French Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry.
Interfel’s Fresh Attitude Week (la Semaine fraîch’attitude) falls under the patronage of the French Ministry of Agriculture and is a week-long event that takes place primarily in schools. It forms part of the French National Health and Nutrition Program (PNNS) in an action called “eat and move,” much like First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s move” campaign in the United States. During their visit to Interfel’s headquarters in mid-October of 2014, representatives from the USFA expressed their interest in implementing Fresh Attitude Week in their six districts, upon returning home, began preparation for its launch on May 18th with the help of Interfel and the French Embassy in Washington, DC.
To have a better idea of the potential impact of the USFA, their six districts procure more than $550 million in food and food supplies annually and purchase nearly $70 million worth of fruits and vegetables a year, which are sourced locally when possible. By leveraging its purchasing power to lower costs, the USFA is able to serve 2.9 million students enrolled in their schools and provide close to 2.6 million meals daily without sacrificing quality. For Fresh Attitude Week, the six districts shone the spotlight on fresh fruits and vegetables, incorporating them into school lunch menus, lesson plans and activities throughout the week. In an official press release on May 18th, Dallas School Food Director and USFA member, Dora Rivas stated: “The Urban School Food Alliance joins the French Department of Agriculture in its mission to educate students about food and to make fresh produce accessible to them in schools for better health…It’s important to not only serve fresh produce to students, but also to introduce them to new fruits and vegetables they have never tried before. In that same press release, Interfel representative Vincenza Ferrucci expressed excitement “…to include U.S. schools on the list of participants” to the now transatlantic celebration of Fresh Attitude Week.
The following are just some of the initiatives undertaken during the USFA’s first annual Fresh Attitude Week:
• Serving more fresh fruits and vegetables during breakfast and lunch
• Highlighting salad bars and specialty salads with new vegetable offerings
• Introduction of regional flavors and vegetarian choices
• Hosting local farmers visits to educate students about where their food comes from
• Promoting fun and attractive food art among students using fruits and vegetables
• Offering fresh and healthy recipes for families to try at home
To learn more about the Urban School Food Alliance, please visit www.urbanschoolfoodalliance.org