On Monday, September 24th, 2018, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today presented Hopewell Elementary School in Mercer County with the “Best in New Jersey Farm to School Award” during an assembly. The presentation took place during the celebration of the 8th annual Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week, September 24-28.
“We applaud Hopewell Elementary School and the entire community of stakeholders who make these Farm to School activities so impactful,” Secretary Fisher said. “From their incredible outdoor school garden, to the school’s commitment to sourcing local produce to ‘Take Your Parent to Lunch Day’ and their partnerships with Princeton University and Sustainable Jersey for Schools grants to purchase a hydroponic vertical growing system, Hopewell Elementary exemplifies the spirit of this award.”
Principal David Friedrich and his staff were on hand to accept the award and to share their successes with the students and gathered guests at an assembly which took place during lunch in the cafeteria.
“At Hopewell Elementary School, we embrace Farm to School practices ranging from growing produce in our outdoor garden and indoor hydroponic vertical farm to its infusion in our homemade organic lunch program,” Friedrich said. “We couple that with a strong educational component and close partnerships with local farmers and chefs.”
Hopewell Elementary School has hosted a school garden since 2008 and has been engaged with local farmers from surrounding counties including Double Brook Farm, Chickadee Creek Farm and Morganics Farm to share their production techniques, agricultural stories and traditions with students.
New Jersey schools that entered the Farm to School Recognition Program for the current school year were required to show evidence of working with farmers and the community to ensure students have access to healthy Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables in their school cafeterias and classrooms. School gardens are an integral part of Farm to School activities and provide hands-on education for students to connect to the state’s agricultural history and learn healthy, lifelong eating habits.
Joining Hopewell Elementary as Farm to School Recognition Program Schools are:
- Bankbridge Elementary School, Sewell
- Canfield Avenue School, Mine Hill
- Elms Elementary School, Jackson
- KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy, Camden
- Lakeside Middle School, Millville
- Memorial Elementary School, Freehold
- Mount Arlington Public School, Mount Arlington
- Mount Vernon School, Newark
- Newark Educators Community Charter School, Newark
- Paterson Public School #8, Paterson
Schools received Jersey Fresh Farm to School promotional materials kits including a Jersey Fresh Farm to School banner, aprons, taste test stickers, Jersey Tastes posters and seasonality charts.
Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week was designated as the last week of each September by a law signed in 2010. During this week, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture showcases schools that connect with New Jersey farmers to purchase local produce for school meals to increase student consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Farm to School activities can include, but are not exclusive to:
- Nutrition education, including taste tests with produce purchased from local farms
- Harvest meals serving locally sourced products from New Jersey farms
- Farm to School curricular tie-ins that connect the cafeteria to the classroom or school garden
- Visits to or from local farms that teach students how food is grown
- School garden education that ties directly into what is already being taught in the classroom
During the 2017-18 school year, the influence of the Farm to School Program led to 255 schools purchasing local produce from their main distributor, 223 districts buying local produce directly from farms, 212 districts using a curriculum that ties cafeteria meals to healthy eating education and 114 districts organizing field trips to farms.