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WILMINGTON, Del. - With 90 percent of Americans failing to meet their daily recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) here and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have teamed to make fruit and veggies top-of-mind for parents and children during the month of September as families pack their lunch bags and head back to school.
"Reaching children and their parents is critical if we are going to change the way people think about what they eat," said Dr. William Dietz, CDC's director of nutrition, physical activity and obesity. "With obesity becoming a growing problem for children and adults alike, we need to instill healthy eating habits early on."
To help professionals encourage children and parents to explore new tastes with recipes from cuisines around the world, CDC has developed a kit of ideas and resources, "Explore the World with Fruits & Vegetables," which includes a guide for professionals with ideas that fit within existing curricula and print materials to use in schools and other child-focused organizations. The materials can be found at www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.
In addition to back-to-school season, September also marks the first-ever National Fruits & Veggies - More Matters Month. PBH and The Culinary Institute of America revealed the winners of the Fruits & Veggies - More Matters Challenge, issued in March. One of two grand prizes was awarded to Hadiza Buge of Atlanta, for developing a Teriyaki chicken recipe which included seven fruits and vegetables, while another working mother, Erica Harris, of Arlington, Texas, was cited for her strategy of serving fruit and vegetable-filled meals under the kitchen table, pretending to be eating camp food beneath a tent. Both women will receive a Family Get Away vacation at The Culinary Institute of America's premier cooking schools in St. Helena, California, and Hyde Park, New York.
Five first-place prizes were awarded for other recipes and tips: the use of a veggie dipping plate, "fruit with TV" rules, vegetable garden growing, pureed vegetable soups, and a healthy fruit salad. In all, contestants from 26 states won prizes, including gift cards to purchase fruits and vegetables.
Currently, the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters initiative is promoted on the packaging of 170 produce companies. In addition, more than 23,000 supermarkets have signed up to promote the new initiative.
The winning recipes and tips, as well as recipes and tips from PBH and the CIA, are available on www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.