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USDA Awards JCPS with Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Grants

As students prepare to go back to school, some may see changes to their diets. The USDA has awarded Jefferson County Public Schools 33 grants for its Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. But those grants may be in jeopardy.The program gives students fresh produce in the afternoon, three days a week. JCPS has received this grant for the past few years. This year, the 33 grants more than doubled last year’s 14.Schools are chosen to participate based on the amount of students that are on the Free and Reduced Meal program. But this money may not be available next school year, said Julia Bauscher, director of nutrition services for JCPS.“Given the current condition in Washington, these grants may not make it into the farm bill,’ she said.The 2012 Farm Bill is still being discussed. Nutrition services relies on the USDA for a majority of its costs, said Bauscher. This year JCPS will receive an extra five cents for each Free and Reduced Meal and one cent for full-priced meals.“It goes up a little bit every year because the reimbursements go up. But so do our costs due to salary increase and the cost of food, especially in the last few years due to the economy,” said Bauscher.Other new initiatives this year include school gardens, changes to recipes and flavored skim milk with lower sugar and no high-fructose corn syrup.