Fruits & Veggies Get An A+ This School Year
Katie Calligaro, Marketing & Communications Director
Produce for Better Health Foundation
Produce for Better Health Foundation’s National Fruits & Veggies Month campaign sets families up for success this school year by offering fun tips and tricks to enjoy more fruits and veggies for health and happiness
September 1, 2021 – This year it’s more important than ever to start the school year as healthy and happy as possible. And here’s a secret – it doesn’t have to be complicated for busy families. A successful school year starts with simply opening the fridge, freezer or pantry and eating more fruits and veggies – the single most important action families can take for healthier and happier lives. In fact, the benefits associated with eating and enjoying more of these original plant foods are so critical that the United Nations General Assembly designated 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.
Research shows 40 percent of Americans have been eating more foods and beverages to boost their immune system. And what better way to support immune health as kids head back to the classroom than by eating more fruits and veggies. Research commissioned by the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) and published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition demonstrates that all forms of fruits and vegetables – fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice – deliver a wide variety of nutritional benefits that can support immunity and improve overall health. Just in time for back-to-school season, PBH is launching its annual National Fruits & Veggies Month campaign, a month-long celebration of Americans’ favorite plant foods and all the amazing flavors and feelings associated with eating and enjoying fruits and vegetables.
“PBH’s recent State of the Plate: America’s Fruit & Vegetable Consumption Trends research shows that we can all eat and enjoy more fruits and veggies, especially young kids – our next generation of plant food fans,” said Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, President and CEO, PBH. “National Fruits & Veggies Month is the perfect time to focus on all of the FUN ways we can eat more fruits and veggies; enjoy positive, plant-packed food experiences; and celebrate what makes our diverse cuisines and cultures unique.”
PBH invites everyone to Have A Plant® this September and all school year long! Here are a few ways to spread the fruit and veggie love during back-to-school season:
- Keep It Real: Set simple goals as a family to boost how often you will enjoy fruits and veggies each week. Maybe it’s adding a new veggie topping to Taco Tuesday or packing a new fruit or veggie in your kiddos lunchbox for Try It Thursday. Start small so you can build on and celebrate successes! For more inspo on how to make fruit- and veggie-filled meals and snacks easy and FUN, check out Kickin’ It With Kids. #haveaplant #NFVM2021
- Start With Fruits & Veggies First: Research shows that simply eating fruits and vegetables first, before and/or at a meal or snack, can help improve the odds they’re eaten more often. Start family dinner with a colorful salad or veggie soup and encourage your kids to sample the fruit and/or veggie first, and over time, if repeated, they will naturally do so.
- Have The Little Ones Serve As Sous Chef: Kids love to be in the kitchen so take the opportunity to get them involved. Give them a job by having them wash veggies for a salad and let them take the lead in making rainbow popsicles for dessert using their favorite fruits. Involving kids in fruit and veggie prep can make them feel like they are superheroes when it comes to helping the entire family level up their produce game.
- Have Fun & Play With Your Food: Get the kiddos involved and use cookie cutters to create fun shapes with fruits and veggies – think cucumber hearts and pineapple stars. Or, have the kids put their chef hats on and whip up a kid-cuterie board with their favorite fruits and veggies to create a fun platter. And don’t forget to end the week by putting a colorful spin on Pizza Friday and preparing a rainbow pizza to make eating veggies both fun and delicious.
- Experiment With All Varieties & Types: Whether fresh, frozen, canned, dried or 100% juice, all forms of fruits and veggies count toward boosting your health and happiness. Try packing dried fruit in your little one’s lunchbox or whipping up a smoothie with frozen fruits for an afternoon snack. The plant-tastic possibilities are endless!
- Play It On Repeat: For new fruit and veggie behaviors to last a generation, they must be repeated. If your family has a favorite fruit- or veggie-inspired or plant-packed meal, make it a weekly tradition that will inspire positive food experiences and beloved memories of home. And if you need some ideas to get you started, we’ve got you covered.
- Celebrate Your Plantentions: National Fruits & Veggies Month is the perfect time to set a goal to #haveaplant more often and then celebrate your success together, with rewards your kids identify. Let them come up with the experience you’ll all enjoy together, such as starting each breakfast with fruit for a week. A little bit of planning can go a long way in building positive fruit and vegetable habits – and recognizing and praising achievements along the way can make those new behaviors last even longer.
Sharing fun and easy ways to enjoy more fruits and veggies is the ultimate way to pay it forward. With back to school in full swing and immunity at the forefront of our minds, we invite you to join PBH – and plant-passionate advocates everywhere – in celebrating National Fruits & Veggies Month! #haveaplant #NFVM2021