Eat Fresh RPS is an initiative to dramatically increase the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten by students in Richmond Public Schools.
During this time when the Richmond food scene has gained national prominence, there is a major opportunity to spread this attention on good food to our local children who have been largely left out of this movement. In a division with a high poverty rate and food deserts, Richmond Public School (RPS) Nutrition Services is striving to provide the healthiest foods to Richmond’s 24,000 students. However, to deliver healthy, fresh food, several physical and staffing skill makeovers are needed. In order to transform the culinary experience and expose RPS students to more fresh produce, Fit4Kids, RPS, and the Richmond City Health District launched Eat Fresh RPS. Building on their existing collaborations, the team secured funding from Impact 100 to retrofit the cafeteria lines at 20 RPS schools to install donated salad bar equipment. The team also received funding to coordinate local chef-led trainings for cafeteria staff, fund fruit and vegetable taste tests, and hire project and evaluation staff. At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, Fit4Kids, RPS, and the Richmond City Health District, had implemented all 20 garden patch salad bars. In the 2016-2017 school year Fit4Kids staff and volunteers continue to promote the garden patch salad bars and educate RPS students on healthy eating habits. So far this year, we have been able to implement Chefs Move to School trainings for the lunchroom staff, and launch additional fruit and vegetable tastings in RPS cafeterias.
It instills good, healthy eating habits and sparks the children’s interest in trying things they normally wouldn’t get at home…I think the kids are pretty excited about it and the adults are too!
-Richmond Public Schools Cafeteria Manager
Since 2016, Fit4Kids staff and volunteers continue to promote the garden patch salad bars and educate RPS students on healthy eating habits. Fruit and Veggie Weeks are held twice a year where hundreds of community volunteers light up 20 cafeterias with thousands of samples of fresh produce. Students have the chance to try a different type of fruit or vegetable every day of the week. And with fun-loving encouragement and positive peer pressure, students often overcome their inhibitions and preconceived ideas of fruits and veggies, and are pleasantly surprised to discover how delicious the healthy option can be!
Over the 2016-17 school year, more than 80,000 samples of fresh produce were served during our Fruit and Veggie Weeks!
Check our volunteer opportunities to sign up to volunteer to support this initiative!
To learn more about Eat Fresh RPS, check out the links below!