USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and Agricultural Marketing Service have collaborated with the Department of Defense (DoD) since 1995 through the DoD Fresh Program to supply fresh fruit and vegetable produce directly to school food services to improve school meals (USDA, 2006a). The DoD uses its high volume and effective purchasing and delivery mechanisms to deliver fresh produce to schools, along with military installations and other sites. The DoD Fresh Program, which began in 1995 with 8 states, is now a permanent program that provided fresh produce to schools in 46 states and the District of Columbia in the 2005–2006 school year and which was funded at $50 million in FY 2005; produce is also supplied to over 100 Indian tribal organizations (David Leggett, USDA, personal communication, July 13, 2006; USDA, 2006a).
Another federal effort focused on increasing student consumption of fruits and vegetables in schools is the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). In the 2002 Farm Bill, Congress initiated the FFVP that provides schools with the funding to offer fresh and dried fruits and fresh vegetables as snacks to students outside of the regular school meal periods. Initiated in the 2002–2003 school year as a pilot program funded at $6 million in 100 schools in four states (Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio) and seven schools in New Mexico’s Zuni Indian Tribal Organization, the program has since expanded to 14 states and three tribal organizations and legislation has been drafted to expand the program nationwide (Branaman, 2003; Buzby et al., 2003; ERS, 2002; UFFVA, 2006) (Chapter 7). Quantitative outcomes data were not collected in the pilot program, but a qualitative process evaluation suggested satisfaction with the program in many schools and by food service staff (Buzby et al., 2003). An evaluation of 25 schools in Mississippi that participated in the FFVP suggests that the distribution of free fruit to middle school students might be effective as a component of a more comprehensive approach to improve dietary behaviors (Schneider et al., 2006). The committee encourages more extensive evaluations of the FFVP and DoD Fresh Program that examine a variety of relevant outcomes to preventing childhood obesity.
The Health in the Balance report (IOM, 2005a) recommended that DHHS develop, implement, and evaluate a long-term national multimedia and public relations campaign focused on obesity prevention in children and youth. Inherent in this recommendation was the need to develop a campaign, in coordination with other federal departments and agencies, and with input from independent experts to focus on building support for obesity prevention policy changes and providing information to parents as well as children and youth. The report emphasized the need for a rigorous evaluation to be a critical component of the campaign; that reinforcing messages be provided in diverse media and effectively coordinated with other events and dissemination activities; and that the media incorporate