Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) is a government-funded initiative that provides daily fresh fruit and vegetables to children in low-decile schools. United Fresh manages this initiative and the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust supports FIS by providing curriculum-linked resources that support learning.
The initiative was piloted in 25 schools in 2004 and grown to reach:
Criteria for schools to join FIS:
External Evaluation of Fruit in Schools Final Report - August 2018
Fruit & Vegetables in Schools feature in The Global Fruit & Vegetable Newsletter 2021 - read here.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are on the menu at 561 of New Zealand’s lowest decile schools, as the country’s most successful and effective school-based nutrition initiative gets underway for 2021, delivering millions more pieces of produce to tamariki in need.
Now in its sixteenth year, the fresh produce supplied to tamariki nationwide by the Fruit and Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative is a lifeline for those struggling to put food on the table. The impact of COVID-19 means this year will be the largest on record for FIS with a
total of over 26 million servings of fresh fruit and vegetables provided to 124,888 tamariki and staff in some of our most vulnerable communities.
Tamariki coming to school without breakfast is a daily occurrence in many schools around Aotearoa. Without a proper breakfast, children struggle to concentrate in class and fail to achieve their potential. Marilyn Ash, FIS Co-ordinator at Te Hapara School in Gisborne, reports the nutrition provided by the fresh produce is often the first meal of the day for many.
“We have been receiving the free lunches since February and really value the fruit, we have it for morning tea and some children don't have breakfast, so the fruit is really important to us,” she says.
United Fresh President Jerry Prendergast says the scheme’s record number of deliveries this year couldn’t come at a more critical time.
“The hardships facing many in our most impoverished communities have intensified significantly since COVID-19. With one in five children living with food insecurity, the importance of receiving fresh, nutritious produce every school day is even greater.”
FIS is funded by the Ministry of Health, managed by United Fresh and supported byThe 5+ A Day Charitable Trust. The initiative sees each child and staff member given one piece of fresh seasonal produce to eat with their classmates daily, providing essential nutritional goodness as well as the opportunity to try over two dozen varieties of fruit and vegetables during the school year.
The initiative is highly valued by tamariki, principals, teachers and whānau across the country and complements the Government’s new school lunch service, Ka Ora, Ka Ako, which is set to provide around 3.3 million lunches to children nationwide. Schools that started the Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme last year have advised that the two programmes are essential to the wellbeing of their tamariki and work particularly effectively when implemented together.
Anna Steed, FIS Co-ordinator at Aorangi School in Rotorua, says Fruit and Vegetables in Schools is fantastic.“Our lunches are working well but they are later in the day, so it is great to receive fruit and the children have something to eat in the morning,” says Steed.
The Government’s Child Poverty Monitor report released in December highlighted the alarming levels of hardship faced by thousands of tamariki, many of whom lack the resources needed to thrive. Those living in areas of high deprivation rely on initiatives such as FIS to reach their full potential. Josephine Gage, the Tumuaki at Te Kura Toitu o Te Whaiti-nui-a-Toi near Murupara in the Bay of Plenty says fresh fruit is a real treat for their tamariki.
“Fruit is going well; the children enjoy the fruit, especially the oranges. We will be part of the free lunches with Murupara Area school and certainly see the value in continuing with fruit because children do not have fruit at home, and it carries them through until the free lunches.”
FIS reaches every decile one and two school in Aotearoa, more than any other food and nutrition health promotion initiative and was recently recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an exemplary programme with a case study presented by the international group AIAM’5 to the WHO in August last year.
“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. FIS is a world-class, innovative response to food insecurity and the recognition from WHO confirmed that,” says Prendergast.
Deliveries are organised at no cost to schools or local communities, and the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust provides free curriculum-linked resources to help promote healthy eating and teach students how to grow their own produce.
“In the 16 years since its inception, the FIS initiative has become an essential, daily part of school life. We are instilling healthy eating habits for a whole generation of Kiwis which will have enormous benefits in the long-run,” says Prendergast.
18 Jun 2021
The Global Fruit & Veg Newsletter - June 2021
Initiatives of the Global Alliance for the Promotion of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, featuring 5+ A Day & Fruit & Vegetables in Schools New Zealand
10 Mar 2021
Produce Industry Launches UN Initiative in New Zealand to Address Hunger and Increase Wellbeing
Aotearoa’s $6 billion fresh produce industry today rolls out a localised UN initiative, as it celebrates the launch of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV).
07 Dec 2020
Free Fruit & Vegetables In Schools More Crucial Than Ever Before
A record 26 million servings of fresh fruit and vegetables will be given to low decile school children next year, with calls to expand the initiative in light of last week’s alarming Poverty Monitor 2020 report.
20 Aug 2020
NZ’s Fruit & Vegetables in Schools Initiative for Vulnerable Children Acknowledged Globally
New Zealand’s most successful and effective school-based nutrition initiative Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) has been selected for inclusion in a report for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
15 Apr 2020
5000 5+ A Day Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Boxes Diverted to Families During Covid-19
Fresh produce deemed for the Fruit and Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative is now being diverted to families in need during Covid-19 lockdown.
25 Feb 2020
Child Poverty Stats Reaffirm Importance Of Free Fruit & Vegetables In Schools
https://5adayeducation.org.nz/learningNew Zealand’s most successful and effective school-based nutrition initiative is applauding progress to reduce child poverty and says providing fresh fruit and vegetables is crucial to ensure ongoing success.
07 Aug 2019
Free Fruit & Vegetables In Schools Receives Top Marks From NZ Parents
Kiwi parents and school principals overwhelmingly back the Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative and new research shows there’s a strong desire for the Government-funded scheme to be expanded.
14 Jun 2019
Government extends Fruit & Vegetables in Schools Initiative
The Ministry of Health has confirmed the extension of the United Fresh-managed Fruit & Vegetables in Schools initiative now providing over 120,000 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables each school day nationwide.
27 Aug 2018
Sweet Success: Fruit & Vegetables in Schools Providing Positive Impact
New research into the impact of Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) has found it is the widest-reaching health initiative for low decile schools in New Zealand, vastly improving health and education outcomes for students.
13 Feb 2017
Fruit in Schools reaches record numbers for 2017
More than 104,000 students are benefitting from the successful Fruit in Schools initiative as a new term kicks off in 2017.
21 Dec 2015
$1.2m extra to expand Fruit & Vegetables in Schools
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the Fruit in Schools programme will be expanded to include an extra 77 schools, benefiting an additional 13,000 students.