How tamariki throughout the region access their 5+ A Day is in the spotlight as the United Nations declares 2021 The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV). This global focus on the availability of fresh, nutritious produce to our most vulnerable communities is an opportunity to address issues of inequality on a local level.
Aotearoa’s Fruit and Vegetables In Schools (FIS) initiative has performed a key role in supporting the health and wellbeing of our tamariki for over sixteen years. In 2021 the initiative will deliver over 27 million servings of fresh fruit and vegetables to schools nationwide. Tamariki in these classrooms are provided with 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 FIS initiative encapsulates the focus of the IYFV, working towards the goals of ending hunger, reducing inequality and improving health, wellbeing and education. Funded by the Ministry of Health, managed by United Fresh and supported by The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust, United Fresh President, Jerry Prendergast, says FIS supports tamariki struggling with food insecurity in our most vulnerable communities.
“The IYFV highlights the need for nations to address issues of access to fresh, nutritious food for all their citizens. United Fresh and growers around the country strongly believe that working together on initiatives such as FIS is critical to solve the food insecurity facing so many around the country.”
Nationwide, 561 low decile schools are currently enrolled in the FIS scheme.
“I’d like to see FIS in every school. I don’t believe it matters what decile rating you are, it’s just a great way of setting kids up for a successful future, teaching them that a piece of fruit is much better than a chocolate bar,” says Bernie Mahoney, Deputy Principal at Onepoto School.
The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables will be marked amidst a climate of renewed interest in health and wellbeing. Prendergast notes that our health has never been more important.
“Our local growers produce some of the highest quality fresh produce in the world. We want to ensure that produce gets to where it’s most needed.
“The fresh fruit and vegetables that tamariki receive through FIS provide an important natural immunity boost for them at this critical time.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the popularity of fresh produce has increased dramatically as families look to improve their health and wellbeing. The FIS initiative ensures that children in most need don’t miss out on the advantages that the rest of us enjoy,” he says.
Originally developed in 2004, FIS 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.
The success of the initiative has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and forms a key part of the fresh produce industry’s response to the IYFV.
“Ending hunger, reducing inequality and improving health and education are the key goals of the IYFV.
“FIS is an excellent example of a successful local response to a global issue. As we mark the IYFV, we will be sharing the benefits of the initiative for tamariki throughout Aotearoa in the hope that we can in turn improve the lives of children elsewhere in the world,” says Prendergast.
About Fruit & Vegetables in Schools
Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) is a Ministry of Health-funded initiative that is managed by United Fresh and supported by the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust. provides daily fresh fruit and vegetables to children in low-decile schools. The initiative was piloted in 25 schools in 2004 and has grown to reach: