Gov’t Spending $4.8M to Tell Students to ‘Get Fruved’

By Eric Scheiner

( – If a college student dressed up as a giant bunch of grapes jumped out of the shadows and told you to “get fruved,” what could you possibly say?

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville is getting more than $4.8 million taxpayer dollars to develop a healthy-eating campaign that has students — dressed up as fruits and vegetables — cavorting in the hallways of higher education.

Getting “fruved” means you’re eating your FRUits and VEgetables. Get it?

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently announced a grant of $4,887,083 for the school’s “Get Fruved” project.
“These grants fund critical research that will help USDA and our partners implement effective strategies to support America’s next generation so they can have a healthy childhood and develop healthy habits for life,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in announcing the grant.

According to the website, the project is “a non-diet approach to weight management and does not promote a special diet to manage weight.”

The campaign includes games and events that center around five characters (Spinach, Carrot, Banana, Grapes, and Tomato). Students wearing fruit and vegetable costumes interact with other students on campus and recruit them to engage in “fruved” activities.

“Students will address behaviors include healthy eating, physical activity, managing stress, emotional well-being, and maintaining positive social systems. The campaign includes social media, a study website, and online educational initiatives.”

Currently some of the “Get Fruved” videos show college students dressed as fruits and vegetables dancing and surprising students. The characters tell students to “Get fruved!” and “Eat healthy, okay?”

Other website pages are still in development and feature an image of fruits and vegetables with the text, “Nothing to see here, yet. You can go Fruve yourself.”

“Ultimately the project will continue with high school students working with middle school students to develop and implement the project on middle school campuses and then middle school students working with elementary students to develop and implement the project in elementary schools,” the website says.

The U-Tennessee project is a community based participatory research project, which means “students are equal partners with faculty researchers in defining the problem, collecting information, interpreting data, and developing solutions in pursuit of socially relevant outcomes.”

Two other universities also will get taxpayer funding as part of the grant announcement, although their award is much less than U-Tennessee’s.

Tufts University in Boston, Mass., is getting $149,988 to develop a study involving “kids-only” retail coupons to promote healthy snack options among adolescents in convenience stores: It’s called the CHOMPS Pilot Project.

And Winston-Salem State University in N.C. is getting $150,000
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