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LINDEN, NJ — Representatives of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture visited Linden High School with New York Jets linebacker Josh Martin on June 2 to honor the school as a division champion of the Jets PLAY 60 “Eat Right, Move More” program.
The Jets PLAY 60 “Eat Right, Move More” program, a partnership between the Jets, the Department of Agriculture and the American Dairy Association North East, encourages New Jersey school children to take advantage of healthy foods in their school cafeterias and become more active.
Rose Tricario, NJDA Division of Food and Nutrition director, said in a press release, “We congratulate Linden High School for creating an environment that encourages access to nutritious foods and opportunities to be more active.”
Students were challenged to keep a daily log of their physical fitness activities every day for 60 minutes during a 60-day period. The teachers at Linden High School tested the students at the beginning of the challenge and at the end of the 60 days. Students showed a dramatic increase in their fitness levels.They also created a video displaying how the school would use the grant to improve the cafeteria and physical education program.
Martin visited the school to present the school with a $5,000 grant to improve school food service and physical education programs, made possible by the Jets and the American Dairy Association North East.
“Prioritizing healthy foods and being active is so important for my daily routine to be successful on and off the field,” Martin said. “The Jets and the Department of Agriculture have a great program to motivate schools and students to live healthier lifestyles.”
Schools were judged on their efforts to provide children with fresh produce, healthy foods, nutrition education and opportunities to increase physical activity. They also were required to have at least 100 students participate in the Jets Play 60 Program, during which students had to log one hour a day of activity for a week.
Linden High School offers fresh fruits and vegetables with school lunch at its daily farm stand.
Some of its most creative menu items include theme days, such as Caribbean Day and Smoothie Promotion Day, as well as Fruit and Vegetable of the Month features. In addition, more than 100 students participated in and completed the program.
“The Linden Public School District couldn’t be more honored to receive this prestigious award. Our district is continually educating our students and staff about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and making smart nutritional decisions,” athletic director Steven Viana said. “This award will allow us to broaden the spectrum of physical activity offerings that we provide for our students. We cherish the opportunity to engage in a variety of fitness experiences in the physical education class and encourage students and families to adopt healthy lifestyles, both in and out of school.”
School officials said the funds would be applied toward the purchase of a portable, refrigerated salad bar unit to enable its food service, Pomptonian, to offer an additional promotional station to serve “made to order” featured salads. School officials also plan to use some of its prize money to help create a spin studio at Linden High School.
“We are constantly striving for new ways to infuse creativity in the physical education classroom and to enhance our nutritional programs offered in our schools,” Viana said. “Our goals always are to provide our students with lifelong tools that include promoting healthy food habits and fun ways to incorporate physical activity.”
The 2016-2017 “Eat Right, Move More” grand champion was Pace Charter School in Hamilton, which received a $15,000 grant and a Jets Program in May. Two other division champions — Amerigo A. Anastasia School in Long Branch and Public School 2 in West New York — each received a $5,000 prize and a Jets program in the spring.