I had the chance to chat Jan. 25 with Elizabeth Pivonka, chief executive of the Produce for Better Health Foundation, Hockessin, Del.
3:30 p.m. Tom Karst: What do you make of the final rule for the updated school nutrition guidelines? It sounds like this a positive development for the fresh produce industry and fruits and vegetables in general.
3:31 p.m. Elizabeth Pivonka: Yes. (School nutrition) guidelines haven’t been updated for 15 years and it is pretty much doubling fruits and vegetable consumption across the board. It is something we have needed since the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. It shouldn’t have taken this long. I know that “pizza as a vegetable” got a lot of play back in November but that kind of missed the point. The point is that there are a lot of very positive changes (in the guidelines) and that what’s needs to be highlighted.
3:32 p.m. Karst: Is there anything that PBH can do for schools as they increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they serve at school meals? Does PBH try to get involved with school foodservice staff at all?
3:33 p.m. Pivonka: As a matter of fact, we had a request to develop promotional materials for schools that have salad bars so we added that to our group of education materials in our catalogue that was released this year. We have a lot of materials (schools) could use in the lunchroom to support fruits and vegetables. Then on our consumer More Matters Web site (http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/) , we do have a list of all the schools that have salad bars, we have a link to all the schools participating in the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and we even have a link to schools with healthy vending machines as well. You can go to our consumer site, type n a zip code and see which of your local schools have these programs. If the industry is interested in reaching out to all of the schools involved with the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, they can find all of those address on our Web site. If the industry is interested in (sending) marketing material to the schools, education materials to the schools, they can grab all of those addresses for our Web site.
3:34 p.m. Karst: Any other thoughts on how the industry can engage on this issue?
3:35 p.m. Pivonka: We continue to encourage the industry to adopt local schools. We hear a lot of schools like our materials, they just can’t afford to purchase them and we can’t afford to give them away. The nice thing about our web site is that they can see which of the schools are the poorest schools, but those are usually the ones that are part of the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Those are the schools most in need of nutrition education materials. The industry can go to our Web site and find the schools in their local area and adopt the schools and send them education materials.
3:36 p.m. Karst: What are some of the highlights of your annual meeting in March 30-31?
3:37 p.m. Pivonka: There will be a literature review on behavioral economics and the psychology of fruit and vegetable consumption. That was developed by a Harvard researcher and a researcher from Brigham Young, and they will be presenting that. We will have a social media speaker and a panel of moms and kids.