New Jersey Ag News
Officials celebrate Jersey Fresh Farm-To-School Week
CARTERET — New Jersey Department of Agriculture Division of Food and Nutrition Director Rose Tricario visited Nathan Hale School in Carteret on Sept. 24 as part of Jersey Fresh Farm-To-School Week to highlight the school’s efforts to incorporate local produce into their school meals.
Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week was designated as the last week of each September by a law signed in 2010 by Gov. Chris Christie and the fifth annual celebration took place Sept. 21-25.
During this time, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has been showcasing schools that connect with New Jersey farmers to purchase local produce for school meals to increase student consumption of healthy produce.
“Each year, excitement about the farm to school program has grown around the state with more schools serving New Jersey produce and growing it themselves in school gardens,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher. “Students, like the ones here at Nathan Hale, are benefiting greatly from eating more healthy, local fruits and vegetables and learning about agriculture.”
Nathan Hale School, which serves 500 students grades pre-K to 5th, is one of 151 schools in the state to receive the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program this year.
Through this program, the school receives a grant which provide students with fresh fruits and vegetables as a snack during the school day.
School Principal Christian Zimmer said the school community is thankful to have been selected to receive the generous and needed grant for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
“Nutrition is a very important part of our educational process and we are thrilled to have this opportunity,” said Zimmer. “It is vital to support our local farms and we work with Maschios, our food service management company, to deliver the best fresh fruits and vegetables for our students.”
During the visit Rose Tricario visited Jessica McGrath’s first-grade classroom to observe the fresh fruit and vegetable program in action. Peaches from Larchmont Farms in Deerfield were served.
As part of the visit, the students were able to ask Tricario a few questions about her job and school lunches. They talked about their favorite fruits and some students even saved their peach seeds in hopes that they would be able to plant a tree at home.
As part of Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week, Secretary Fisher announced earlier this week the launching of a new Jersey Fresh Farm to School website at www.farmtoschool.nj.gov.
The website has resources for schools on how to start a farm to school program, where to source New Jersey produce and how to plant a school garden.
For farmers, the website provides information on how they can sell their produce to schools and gives them farm to school marketing materials.
The website has a listing of farm to school events and news and has helpful links for students and parents. Also, each month a “Top Tomato” will be highlighted, a person who has made a difference in Farm to School. In addition, the website links to the newly-created Jersey Fresh Farm to School Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pages.
“Successful farm to school programs need the support of school administrators, teachers, parents and the community,” said Fisher. “We congratulate all the schools and farmers across the state that are currently involved and encourage those not yet involved to visit our new website or call the New Jersey Department of Agriculture for assistance.”
(Editor’s note: This article is courtesy New Jersey Department of Agriculture.)