Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Free Fruit Friday in Australian schools

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Australia has big hopes for an $11 million dollar plan to provide high-quality fruits and vegetables to school kids. Targeting Victorian government school students, the first stage of Free Fruit Friday includes 35,000 prep to grade two students across 300 schools.

Australia has its own problems with rising obesity and diabetes, and this fiber-loaded funding is more than just good stuff on Fridays. Premier John Brumby stated the Victorian plan is more comprehensive than a UK free fruit program that resulted in limited impact, per a published study last month in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Brumby explained Free Fruit Friday is part of a broader strategy, pairing with other programs such as Go For Your Life, another government program touting healthy eating and physical activity. He believes the effort will create behavioral change. Bold statement. I'll be curious to read the program evaluation results down the line. You can't help but like the idea of kids scooping up free fruits and vegetables in schools. The initiative suggests schools purchase locally -- fresher produce and support of the small farmer.

I wonder if $11 million invested in a school-based program can bring about long-term behavioral change. Family eating behaviors have to be part of the mix. How about a twice monthly box of fruits and vegetables for each family, too? Read more in news.com.au.

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