Connecting Students to Agriculture
BC students deserve to eat the best, and that’s BC grown fruits and vegetables. The BC School Fruit & Vegetable Nutritional Program (BCSFVNP) grew out of an idea formed in 2004 to bring BC grown fruits and vegetables into the classrooom.
The BC ministries of Agriculture, Education, and Health selected the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation (BCAITC) to implement a pilot program. As a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing BC’s agriculture to students, we were a natural choice. Already working closely with schools, producers, suppliers, and distributors, we were proud supporters of BC farmers and BC grown produce.
What a long way we’ve come! The BCSFVNP has grown from an initial launch of 10 schools to 1,451 K-12 public schools and K-12 First Nations schools that participated in the program for the 2019/2020 school year. With the help of our over 4,000 volunteers and incredible agricultural partners, we now provide fresh fruits and vegetables 12 times in the school year to over 586,277 students. Many of those students are trying new foods for the first time and finding out how great they taste. They are also making connections to where their food comes from and learning that eating BC grown produce supports local farmers and the economies of rural regions — building blocks towards a lifetime of healthy and sustainable eating.
Why We Love the BCSFVNP
- It increases students' acceptance of, exposure to, and willingness to try fruits and vegetables.
- It increases students' knowledge and awareness of fruits and vegetables as nutritious foods to eat.
- It increases knowledge and awareness of locally grown foods.
- It increases access to local fruits and vegetables in BC schools
- It supports BC's economy and builds relationships between industry partners by working with local growers and distributors to bring fresh BC products to schools across the province.
Who Funds the BCSFVNP?
The BCSFVNP is supported by the Province of British Columbia, the Provincial Health Services Authority, and the First Nations Health Authority. It is administered through BCAITC, a non-profit organization dedicated to “Working to bring BC’s agriculture to our students.” The Foundation works with local growers and distributors to bring fresh BC products to students.
BCSFVNP +Milk Evaluations
Sign Us Up!
The BC School Fruit & Vegetable Nutritional Program (BCSFVNP) is available to all K-12 public schools and K-12 First Nations schools in BC wanting to bring fruits and vegetables to their students. Run as an annual program, school selection is based on a first-come, first-served basis for September enrollment each school year. To apply, please review our list of requirements below, then complete and submit a BCSFVNP application for new schools by the deadline of April 1. (You may apply at any time throughout the school year, but applications submitted after April 1 will be kept on file for the following September intake.) If you have any questions, contact us at BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation.
Once your school is enrolled in the BCSFVNP, there's no need to re-apply each year. You just need to complete the online Annual Renewal Form, available on your school login, and submit it to us by mid-June for the next school year.
What Do We Need to Get Started?
- Each school must have at least one FOODSAFE Level 1 certified volunteer (this person does not necessarily have to be the In-School Coordinator).
- A copy of your FOODSAFE Level 1 certificate must accompany your application. More information on FOODSAFE.
- The school must take a whole-school approach to the program (all classrooms must participate).
- The school agrees that the product will be consumed in a classroom setting and does not replace recess or lunch foods.
- The school principal must indicate support of participation when completing the online application and provide his/her contact information.
- In addition to one In-School Coordinator, the school must designate one staff member, other than the principal, as a contact.
- After acceptance into the program, the school must distribute and maintain parent consent and/or reverse consent forms.
- On acceptance into the program, all registered contacts will have access to the school login with their email address and a private password.
- In order for us to ensure the program is running smoothly, and to track any issues as well as successes, we ask schools to fill out online log sheets, provided on the school login page, then submit them on a monthly basis to the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation (BCAITC) program office.
- The school understands that it is responsible for providing adequate refrigeration for produce when required. Please review our Fruit and Vegetable Storage Guide. BC public and First Nations schools that do not have adequate refrigeration may be eligible to apply for a Fridge Grant to put towards the purchase of a refrigerator.
- The school understands that because we are dealing with fresh produce, there may be unexpected changes to items scheduled for delivery.
- The In-School Coordinator must manage any allergy alerts.
A Crop of Resources!
We provide a number of resources specific to the BC School Fruit & Vegetable Nutritional Program (BCSFVNP) so that teachers can use the classroom produce deliveries as an opportunity to link to the curriculum and teach about healthy eating, BC agriculture, and farm-food connections.
Every participating student will receive a program brochure to take home. It provides parents/guardians and students with information about the fresh fruit and vegetable program, along with a list of resources and websites for information on healthy eating.
Information and Activity Sheets
There are two levels of information and activity sheets available as teachers’ materials. The "Fresh Story — Primary" sheets are designed to assist primary teachers in leading their students on discussions about the colour, shape, texture, flavour, smell, and taste of the delivered fruit or vegetable. Presented in a fun and engaging manner for classroom use, each "Fresh Story" contains interesting facts and trivia on each of the fruits and vegetables, including information on how they are grown and harvested, their history, and a related agricultural topic. For older and middle grade students, “Fresh Story — Intermediate” furthers the discussion by introducing teachers and their students to the growers and suppliers of their classroom delivery. Each “Fresh Story — Intermediate” profiles a BC grower and their product and engages students in exercises and activities related to agriculture, while also incorporating Math, Language Arts, and Social Studies curriculum.
Primary Fresh Stories (Click on Each Image to Download Resource)
Intermediate Fresh Stories (Click on Each Image to Download Resource)
Our posters are also great for displaying and making connections to agriculture in your classroom:
Partners Make It Possible — Thank You!
The BC School Fruit & Vegetable Nutritional Program (BCSFVNP) would not be the success it is today without the continued support of our partners in the agricultural industry. With their efforts and teamwork, we are reaching over half a million BC students who enjoy the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables. Together, we will keep spreading the word to teachers and their students about BC agriculture and the benefits of healthy eating.
Community Nutritionists of BC
Saturna General Store
Teachers and Parents Ask the Best Questions
If there is an issue with the condition and/or quality of the produce, please take pictures and e-mail them to email@example.com.
Specifically, we need pictures of: • the actual produce • the outside of the boxes in which the produce arrived • any expiry dates on the boxes or on the packaging inside the boxes
Call the BCSFVNP office’s toll-free number as soon as possible after you’ve emailed the pictures and steps will be taken immediately to correct the problem. 1-866-517-6225.
For a complete list of the refrigeration needs of all our produce, refer to our Fruit and Vegetable Storage Guide.
All fruits and vegetables in the Program are grown in BC except for mandarins. On occasion, due to unforeseen circumstance we may need to substitute for
other imported products. Should this happen, our mandate is to supply Canadian produce if possible. There may be occasions when growing conditions affect our BC crops and we will need to utilize other sources, but we do our best to ensure top quality BC produce whenever possible.
Some of the produce we provide in the Program is organically grown. Many of the products we use are not certified organic, but are grown utilizing organic practices.
Absolutely. BC boasts some of the safest growing practices in the world. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regularly checks produce for pesticide residues and our produce is considered some of the safest in the world. All of the fruit and vegetables used in the Program are HACCP certified. This means that the growers follow all the best growing practices, and packing and safety techniques.
You may have leftover produce because we do not break case lots of produce for food safety reasons. If you have 90 students in your school, you may receive a case of apples with 110 pieces.
Use leftover produce:
- In the school Culinary Arts program or Home Economics.
- Provide it to a school meal program in the school.
- Do not leave a bowl out for students to help themselves; this would create a high touch point for spread of disease.
The fruit and vegetables provided in the BCSVNP have been on a journey since their harvest at the grower so it is always a good idea to wash them prior to consumption. This can be easily achieved in most cases right in the packaging.
Tree fruits have all been water bathed, but it’s a good idea to rinse prior to consumption. This is a good opportunity to emphasize with students one of the BCSFVNP objectives of safe food handling, no different than washing your hands. The fruits and vegetables that we provide are easily consumed without slicing or dicing. Enjoy them whole!
Those fruits and vegetables listed under “What products need to be refrigerated?” must not be left un-refrigerated for more than 2 hours. Other produce can be left out and served in class at the teachers' convenience.
The safety requirements for receiving, storing and handling the produce are outlined on pages 3-7 in the In-School Coordinator’s guide book. Your school is required to have a FOODSAFE certified handler. All hand washing and safety procedures as outlined in the FOODSAFE guide must be followed. All produce should be checked for freshness before being delivered to the classroom. Any quality issues should be recorded in the Monthly Log located on the School Login and reported to the BC SFVNP office. (See question “What if there’s a problem with my delivery?”).
Not necessarily. As long as there is at least one person in the school with FOODSAFE certification who is inspecting the produce before distribution, then the In-School Coordinator does not need to have this training.
This is not uncommon. In order for you to have the highest quality produce, we order from our suppliers up to 6 weeks in advance of your delivery date. Since we don’t want it to be over-ripe when it gets to you (thus inedible), we err on the
side of caution so the produce may be a little under-ripe. Under-ripe produce also endures the trip from the supplier to the schools much easier than over-ripe produce. Please wait until your produce is ripe before you distribute it to the students. If your produce is a little under ripe, placing it out on the counter next to some bananas (which give off a natural ethylene gas) will help it ripen quicker.
One method that we’ve heard used by schools was to use paper cupcake holders for each student’s serving. They are recyclable and inexpensive. Some schools choose to take the opportunity to emphasize the importance of hand washing before eating, and have all the students wash their hands before grabbing a handful of blueberries. Upon enrollment, each school on the Program is issued a one-time stipend to help with costs for distribution implements such as bowls, spoons, paper cupcake holders, etc.
A $250 one-time stipend cheque was provided upon enrollment in BCSFVNP, to be used to support the Program in your school. This grant is to be used to cover costs that may be incurred to administer the Program. Some schools use the funds to purchase cups, toothpicks, and other materials that assist them in the distribution of products to the students according to FOODSAFE requirements. As long as it is used in a manner that supports the implementation of the Program in your school, usage of the funds is at the school’s discretion.
There will not be replacement cheques sent for lost or stale-dated stipend cheques.
Up until Jun 29, 2013, none of the FOODSAFE Level 1 certificates had an expiry date. It was a one-time training. As of June 29, 2013 all new FOODSAFE Level 1 certificates issued in BC have a five-year expiry date. FOODSAFE Level 1 certifications without an expiry date expired on July 29, 2018. To obtain a new certificate holders can take an inexpensive and short three-hour refresher course. For accurate information on this topic, please contact the FOODSAFE Authority in your area through foodsafe.ca.
The main reason to take FOODSAFE training is to protect the public from food borne illnesses.
It is our responsibility to ensure that the fruits and vegetables are safe to eat before they leave our supplier. It is the school’s responsibility to guarantee that they have a FOODSAFE Level 1 certified person inspecting all produce before it is distributed to the children.
Days where your school does not have a representative to sign for a delivery and therefore cannot accept product, should be registered as a “no-deliver” day on the School Login. These days may include Pro-D days, holidays, spring break, etc. Once submitted, these changes will move seamlessly into our database. Please remember — we require a minimum of 3 weeks’ notice in order to reinstate or cancel a delivery.
If you know of someone at your school who will be available to accept the delivery on a day when students are not in session, we do not need to be advised of that date and cancellation is not necessary.
If a delivery date is cancelled, the product is not rescheduled for another day. The school will forfeit that delivery.
Fruit and vegetable crops are susceptible to many outside influences such as weather, temperature, and handling. Any variation in these influences can affect how quickly or slowly they ripen. Anything less than 5% of bad produce in your delivery is within a somewhat normal range. If more than 5% of your delivery is bad, please refer to “What if there is a problem with our delivery?” for instructions on what to do.
Unless the apples are organic a wax coating is added to whole apples. When apples are still on the tree they have a natural protective coating that slows dehydration and seals in moisture, but after they are picked the natural coating is removed. They are waxed to keep them fresh and looking fine.
The wax that is used is vegetable based, completely edible, utterly safe, and approved by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. It is used very sparsely — a single gallon of wax will coat five tons of apples!
It’s not just apples that are waxed. Citrus fruits, rutabagas, cucumbers, many tomatoes, melons, and peppers also go through this same waxing process.
A recommended portion is: 1 medium-sized fruit or vegetable, or 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) of raw, fruits or vegetables. Refer to the Suggested Portions document for distribution recommendations.
Program coordinators have access to the list of scheduled products on the Delivery Schedule located on the School Login. Specific allergies can be registered on the School Login and that delivery will be automatically cancelled.