(May 28) The latest survey on fruit and vegetable consumption by U.S. schoolchildren delivered the bad news: Only one in seven of our nation’s youths eats five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

While the statistics aren’t surprising, the sheer numbers are disheartening. They help explain why the number of overweight children has doubled in the past two decades. For teen-agers, the story is even worse. The number of overweight adolescents has tripled.

But problems present opportunity. And that’s clearly the case in this situation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, for example, has joined the partnership formed 10 years ago by the Produce for Better Health Foundation and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to promote the 5 a Day program, which is designed to help consumers — young, old and in between — meet the goal of eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

In the partnership, the USDA plans to provide additional information to consumers that encourages, among other things, a balanced diet.

Many companies throughout the industry have donated generously to the foundation, an effort that can only help it meet its goal. And, spurred by the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association and the Western Growers Association, growers in Florida, California and Arizona contributed a significant percentage of federal monies designated for them to the foundation. All of this will help the effort to get Americans to eat more healthfully.

When consumers do that, the produce industry, which provides a true bounty of the best that nature has to offer at affordable prices, will benefit. If our schoolchildren’s eating habits aren’t changed now, the industry’s prospects are bleak.