United Fresh - 5 a day

Image source: United Fresh

New Zealand’s Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative has been selected for inclusion in a report for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The government-funded FIS is managed by industry group United Fresh and supported by the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust. It has been providing fresh fruit and vegetables to children in low-decile schools for 15 years.

The report focuses on the effective promotion of fresh produce and will be presented to the attendees of the International Workshop on Fruits and Vegetables in August 2020, in preparation for the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, which gets underway in 2021.

“United Fresh has worked tirelessly to provide fresh fruit and vegetables daily to improve the health and well-being of New Zealand’s most vulnerable children,” said Paula Dudley, general manager of United Fresh. “FIS is a world-class, innovative response to food insecurity and the invitation from the FAO and WHO has confirmed that.”

Over 26m servings of fresh fruit and vegetables will be provided to 123,000 students and staff at 556 different schools across New Zealand in 2020 as part of the FIS initiative.

Even Covid-19 restrictions haven’t stopped the initiative, with United Fresh utilising its existing supply chain to provide over 28,000 boxes of fresh produce to communities during lockdown.

“We know that the opportunity we are providing for these pupils to try over two dozen varieties of fruit and vegetables during the school year leads to healthier choices later in life and has a positive influence on the rates of fresh produce consumption at home,” said Dudley.

United Fresh frequently works with organisations around the world on projects focused on sustainability, biodiversity and other information-sharing studies.

Jerry Prendergast, president of United Fresh, said collaborating with multinational organisations has immense benefits for the New Zealand industry.

“United Fresh is committed to working on a global scale to add value to New Zealand’s fresh produce sector and to develop initiatives such as FIS to improve the health and well-being of all New Zealanders.”