New Zealand’s 5+ A Day Charitable Trust, established in 2007, is committed to increasing the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables for the better health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders. The Trust oversees a number of strategies to meet this challenge and address the current statistics that show only 53.1 percent of New Zealanders consume the recommended three or more servings of vegetables and 51.5 percent consume the recommended two or more servings of fruit.
The Fruit and Vegetable in Schools Strategy
The Fruit and Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative is one of the most successful of the 5+ A Day strategies, recognised globally for its work to foster a long-term appreciation for the benefits of fruit and vegetables amongst the nation’s youngest citizens.
FIS is a Ministry of Health-funded initiative that provides daily fresh fruit and vegetables servings to school children in areas of high need. Eating this serving every day in the classroom alongside peers and teachers encourages children to view fruit and vegetables as a normal, essential part of their diet.
Research Results on the effectiveness of the FIS
Independent research conducted in 2018 documented the effectiveness and value of the FIS initiative.- 83% of principals surveyed said the overall health of their children would decline without FIS
School leaders (principals and teaching staff) noted that one of the key strengths of FIS was the way it ensures all students have access to healthy food, and those that come to school hungry no longer
struggle to concentrate and learn. As well as providing essential nutritional goodness, the children have the opportunity to try over two dozen varieties of fruit and vegetables during the school year, increasing their appreciation for a range of fresh produce across the seasons.
"Fruit & Vegetables in Schools is a real bonus to us as a decile 1 (low income) school. The children look forward eagerly to this and I doubt that otherwise they would have fruit in their diets.
I would be personally devastated for these children if this amazing programme were to stop. Particularly with the loss of so many jobs to COVID this must continue as parents are making so many cut-backs as it is."
Maxine Stensness, Principal, Meremere School, Auckland
Further Learning Support
In addition to daily servings of fruit and vegetables to boost immunity and supplement the children’s diets, the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust supports FIS by providing curriculum-linked resources that encourage healthy lifestyles.
The educational resources include a dedicated website www.5adayeducation.org.nz and an extensive range of print and digital materials which focus on eating a healthy diet, including growing fruit and vegetables at home.
Connection to Community
The positive impacts from FIS extend beyond the school environment as children take their learning home and influence the diets of their families."Our students and their whãnau (families) are very grateful for the fruit and vegetables. This is even more so this year when it has been more challenging for some families financially. All the fruit is given out to the tamariki (children) daily and if there is any left-over it is given to students who have not brought lunch or to take home."
Sarah Mirams, Principal, East Tamaki School, Auckland
FIS increased fruit and vegetable consumption in children
according to parents
The 2018 research also surveyed the opinion of parents whose children received fruit and vegetables from the initiative:- 76% of the parents surveyed said their child ate more fruit because of FIS
With the impact of a global pandemic, food insecurity is of even greater concern across the globe. The continuation of FIS, with the support of government looks set to keep positively influencing the health and wellness of all New Zealanders for many years to come by encouraging the youngest Kiwis to view fruit and vegetables as a normal component of their everyday diet.