Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr.

Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr.


The French Ministry of Agriculture has simplified its “A Fruit at Recess” program and made it easier for local governments to participate in the groundbreaking program. Now local governments have less steps to complete the application and the overall process is much simpler.

The “A Fruit at Recess” program was started in 2008 and provides fruit for students from preschool to high school. It started as an experimental program to increase French people’s fruit consumption, which wasn’t high enough. The program’s goal is to fight against food injustice and to give kids a taste for eating better. More than 700,000 students participated in the program in 2015.

The concept is to integrate the notion of healthy eating into the lives of students and to link good eating with pleasure, curiosity and discovery. The program isn’t only intended to increase the national rate of fruit consumption, but also to serve as an overall educational tool about the connection between food and the place it comes from, the importance of seasons and eating things in the proper season, and the link between eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and a lower rate of obesity.

How does the program work? The fruits are given out to students from primary to secondary school either during classes, recess or just before or after school, which is left entirely up to each individual school. The only rule is that the fruit is not allowed to replace fruit given out at lunch under any circumstances. Participating schools commit to distributing at least 6 portions of fruit per trimester at their schools. The program also favors using local and organic fruit providers whenever possible.

Min.Agri

Min.Agri


Learning activities are also included with each distribution. Things like establishing gardens in schools, fruit-themed art activities, games, special classes, and constructing fruit bars are all possibilities for learning more about fruit and healthy eating. Fruits – and all food – also have a story to tell because, after all, each product corresponds to a place and land where women and men grew it, prepared it and distributed it.

An added benefit of the program is that it’s largely reimbursed. The European Union started paying 76% of the cost of the program in 2014, before that, the EU paid 50%. The remaining costs (distribution, primarily) are paid by the local government. The cost per fruit before the EU help is approximately 0.30 euros, an inexpensive way to help kids learn more about eating healthy and to better connect with their food!