Dec 19, 2022
N.J. celebrates school produce snack program

New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture representatives presented Nicholas LaCorte-Peterstown School No. 3 in Elizabeth with the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program VIP Award recently.

The award program highlights schools in the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) for an exceptional job promoting fruits and vegetables and healthy lifestyles to their students. The school was selected for the first-place prize for providing a comprehensive program integrating the entire school community in program and wellness activities.

“The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program provides a way for schools to teach students about where their food comes from and how it is produced, which in turn encourages healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime,” NJDA Secretary Douglas Fisher said in a news release. “This program also gives students the opportunity to enjoy a healthy snack and celebrate the farmers who grow these foods. Congratulations to the staff and students at LaCorte-Peterstown School No. 3 for operating such a wonderful program.”

The school offers the federally funded FFVP, which offers grants to schools to provide fresh produce as snacks to students in schools where 50% or more of the students receive free or reduced-price meals. A record-high 210 New Jersey schools are participating in the 2022-23 school year’s FFVP.

“Consuming healthy fresh fruits and vegetables has become a habit for many of our students because of this program,” LaCorte-Peterstown School No. 3 Principal Jennifer Campel said in the release. “It has contributed to them understanding the value of eating nutritious foods on a regular basis as they learn how a good diet can have positive effects on their classroom performance as well as in extra-curricular activities.”

NJDA Food and Nutrition Division Director Rose Tricario presented the school with a trophy. Students have been served Jersey Fresh produce throughout the year as FFVP snacks. This includes SnapDragon apples, kale, spinach, corn on the cob (shucked by students), asparagus, tomatoes, green beans, bell peppers, squash and Brussels sprouts.

LaCorte-Peterstown School No. 3 features a farm stand with fresh produce, allowing students to grab a fruit or vegetable throughout the day for a healthy snack. Students and their families also created a “Let’s Cook” fruit and vegetable cookbook, along with a fruit snack in decorative boxes.

The USDA has allocated $5.58 million to New Jersey for this school year’s FFVP to provide fresh produce to approximately 100,000 students in 54 districts throughout 16 counties during the school day. The students also receive nutrition education.

Eighty-four percent of the 210 schools have agreed to link their FFVP to the Jersey Fresh Farm to School Program. The FFVP program has grown from 33 schools in 2008.

— N.J. Department of Agriculture

Photo: Nicholas LaCorte-Peterstown School teacher Edward Melchionna holding the trophy in front of the school’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program display. Photo: USDA

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