Students at 26 elementary schools in Davis, Ogden and Weber School districts will get a free snack of fresh fruits or vegetables at least twice a week at school this coming school year.

These 26 schools were selected to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides $55.75 per student to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to every student in selected schools throughout the school year.

“(The children) are being introduced to whole foods. It’s always fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Sheri Welch, dietitian with Ogden School District. “The idea is to get these kids introduced to foods that they otherwise would not have access to or the inclination to purchase, so we’re trying to open them up to getting their parents on board with a broader diet.”

The program serves common choices, like apples and bananas, but it also provides more unusual options, like pomegranate arils, blood oranges, passion fruit, finger grapes, multi-colored carrots and purple cauliflower. All items are served raw, which is part of the program’s rules.

The fruits and vegetables are also served plain, without sides like fruit dip. Welch said sometimes they serve ranch with vegetables, since they’re a harder sell than fruit.

There’s also an education piece connected to the snack, so children can learn about the nutrition provided by the fruit or vegetable, how and where it’s grown or how to prepare it, Welch said.

Programs like this are important in neighborhoods where it’s more difficult to access fresh food.

In the area covered by Ogden School District, grocery stores tend to be located around the perimeter, which requires residents to have a vehicle to access them, Welch said.

Davis School District received about $167,00 for the program, which will serve seven schools: Doxey, Fremont, Holt, South Clearfield, Sunset, Vae View and Wasatch.

Ogden School District received about $293,000, which will serve 10 schools: Bonneville, Heritage, Hillcrest, Horace Mann, James Madison, Lincoln, New Bridge, Odyssey, Taylor Canyon and T.O. Smith.

Weber School District received about $229,000, which will serve nine schools: Burch Creek, Canyon View, Lakeview, Municipal, North Park, Roosevelt, Roy, Valley View and Washington Terrace.

All elementary schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program are eligible to participate. School principals apply for the program, which gives preference to schools with a high percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price meals.

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