(TRENTON, NJ) ― New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today announced a program to recognize schools and farmers who work together to ensure students have access to healthy Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables in their school cafeterias.
Applications for the 2014-2015 Jersey Fresh Farm to School Recognition Program are now available to schools and farms who regularly participate in Farm to School activities. The applications can be found online at: http://bit.ly/1erIfPb.
“The Department of Agriculture wants to recognize the schools and farmers who are making great efforts to increase students’ consumption of Jersey Fresh produce,” said Secretary Fisher. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has guidelines that require schools to serve more fresh fruits and vegetables. In most areas of New Jersey there is a farm nearby, so it makes sense for schools and farmers to partner.”
There are many benefits to the schools and farms to participate in the recognition program. For schools, they get the opportunity to expand their farm to school efforts, highlight Jersey Fresh produce in their meals, and to educate students about good nutrition and the New Jersey Agricultural industry. Farmers will find the program is a new marketing opportunity to strengthen the relationship between their farm and community. Both schools and farmers will receive a Jersey Fresh Farm to School promotional materials kit, including a banner to display informing students and the community of their participation in the program.
For schools to be accepted into the program, they must administer the National School Lunch Program and participate in Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week September 22-26 and National Farm to School Month October 2014. Over the course of the growing season, schools will serve Jersey Fresh produce and promote the consumption of the produce.
For farmers, they also must participate in Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week and National Farm to School Month. They must be a licensed Jersey Fresh farmer and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) – certified farm. Farmers will provide schools with an anticipated list of their Jersey Fresh produce and work collaboratively with them to expand the Farm to School program.
The Jersey Fresh Farm to School initiative aims to connect schools with New Jersey farmers to purchase local produce for school meals. The goal is to teach children where their food comes from by serving them local produce and growing it themselves in school gardens.
To learn more, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/fn/childadult/farm_to_school.html.