(June 20) WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fruit and vegetable consumption now is a key component in public policy, produce industry leaders are claiming, in the wake of a health and fitness initiative that President Bush announced June 20.

The “Healthier U.S.” initiative calls for enhancing the National 5 a Day for Better Health Program with a more coordinated effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute.

Bush urged Americans to consume “at least five fruits or vegetables a day,” as he was host a White House Fitness Expo on the South Lawn.

The Wilmington, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Alexandria, Va.-based United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association will work with the USDA, CDC and National Cancer Institute to identify policy needs and shape policy proposals to increase produce consumption that both the produce industry and the public can support, said Tom Stenzel, United president.

“We think this is the top-down push that nutrition and health policy have really needed for a long time,” Stenzel said. “A lot of good people have worked tirelessly on nutrition policy, but when you get this type of support from the president, it’s significant.”