NEW YORK -- The Urban School Food Alliance (the Alliance), a coalition of the largest school districts in the United States that includes New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando, celebrates Fresh Attitude Week from May 18-22, 2015. In collaboration with the French Department of Agriculture and in partnership with Interfel (French Inter-Branch Association of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables which created Fresh Attitude Week), the Alliance will celebrate Fresh Attitude Week for the first time in America. Along with schools in France and Italy, the districts in the Alliance will feature fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals and encourage students to make healthy choices. Together, the six districts in the Alliance purchase nearly $70 million worth of fruits and vegetables a year, which are sourced locally when possible.
"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," said Dora Rivas, executive director of Food & Child Nutrition Services at Dallas Independent Public Schools. "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."
Last fall, members of the Alliance were invited by the French Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry to visit France to observe how the French government and the fruit and vegetable sector promote food awareness and healthy eating in schools. In particular, classes encourage French students to sample a variety of food items using their five senses and to share their experience with their peers, ultimately strengthening the food culture of France for future generations.
"Highlighting the various fruits and vegetables we proudly prepare in our schools helps students have a better understanding and attitude towards food," said Stephen O'Brien, director of Food Management at New York City Department of Education.
For Fresh Attitude Week, the six school districts in the Alliance will conduct activities such as:
- Serve more fresh fruits and vegetables during breakfast and lunch
- Highlight salad bars and specialty salads with new vegetable offerings
- Introduce regional flavors and vegetarian choices
- Host local farmers visits to educate students about where their food comes from
- Promote fun and attractive food art among students using fruits and vegetables
- Offer fresh and healthy recipes for families to try at home
"We are pleased to collaborate with the Urban School Food Alliance for Fresh Attitude Week," said Catherine Rogy, deputy counselor for Agriculture at the Embassy of France in the United States. "We are happy that their visit to France last fall has had such a concrete follow-up."
"Fresh Attitude Week has been celebrated in France for more than ten years as well as in Italy the past couple years, and we're excited to include U.S. schools on the list of participants," added Vincenza Ferrucci, in charge of International Affairs at Interfel.
The Alliance procures more than $550 million in food and food supplies annually. It aims to use its purchasing power to help drive costs down without sacrificing quality for the best possible meals for students. The six districts in the Alliance currently serve 2.9 million students enrolled in their schools and provide close to 2.6 million meals daily.
Last December, the Alliance announced member districts would start procuring antibiotic-free chicken for the 2015 - 2016 school year to protect the health and wellness of students.
This spring, the Urban School Food Alliance school districts will work toward purchasing compostable cutlery and are expected to roll out the new utensils in schools during the 2015 - 2016 school year. Compostable cutlery will replace institutional-looking plastic "sporks" (combination of spoon and fork in one) that students find cumbersome to use.
To learn more about the Urban School Food Alliance, please visit www.urbanschoolfoodalliance.org.