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Kuperus with student - Click to enlarge
For Immediate Release: June 2, 2006
Contact: Lynne Richmond (609) 292-8896

(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus and Yvette S. Jackson, United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator, today visited with students in the Tuscan Elementary School cafeteria in Maplewood, where good nutrition and healthy lifestyles are part of every school day.

“Tuscan Elementary School is an example of how educating young people about the importance of good nutrition and physical activity can have a positive impact on their lives now and into the future,” said Secretary Kuperus.  “The school and the entire South Orange and Maplewood school district have recognized that the key to the good health of their students is more than merely serving healthier foods.  They have incorporated nutrition education, exercise and family and community involvement in their programs.”

Kuperus and Jackson chose to visit Tuscan Elementary School to highlight the school’s exemplary efforts in providing a healthy school nutrition environment for its students.  The school ranked high in the USDA’s Healthier School Challenge, has activities in place for nutrition education and physical activity, and has school menus that meet specific nutritional criteria, as well as healthy standards for snack items and beverages offered outside of the school meals. 

Jackson awarded the school district a USDA Certificate of Appreciation for its high standards for student health.

“The South Orange and Maplewood school district has been a leader in promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles throughout New Jersey,” said Jackson.  “The district actively assists other districts by offering valuable input on menu changes needed to execute a successful wellness policy.”

"This is a community that is committed to the health and wellness of its children by providing a coordinated effort among our food services area and our health and physical education departments," said Judy LoBianco, district supervisor of health, physical education and nursing.  "We teach children to eat right and exercise by living it every day.  It's part of our school culture."

Tuscan is one of eleven schools in New Jersey participating in the state’s Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program, administered through the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Division of Food and Nutrition and funded by the 2004 United States Department of Agriculture Team Nutrition Grant.  The program introduces students to a new fruit or vegetable each month, and has resulted in a higher consumption rate of fruits and vegetables by students at the school. 

In addition, the school has already implemented many of the standards schools in New Jersey must comply with by September of 2007 under the state’s Model School Nutrition Policy - the most comprehensive school nutrition policy in the nation.  The rule, which covers pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, limits fat and sugar content in foods offered in a la carte lines, snack bars, vending machines, school stores and as part of on-campus fund-raisers.

For more information about the Department’s Model School Nutrition Policy, visit: