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Photo of Arleen Ramos-Szatmary, Secretary Kuperus, Ferguson, Clarke, Councilman Greg Bidard, Mayor McCormac and Matt Higgins - Click to enlarge
For Immediate Release: November 27, 2007
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(WOODBRIDGE) – The New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the New York Jets are teaming up for a second year to encourage New Jersey school students to eat healthier and live more active lifestyles.  Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus and Jets players D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Adrien Clarke today visited Port Reading School #9 in Woodbridge, one of the winners in this year’s Eat Right, Move More program.

The Eat Right, Move More campaign, urges Garden State students to eat the healthy foods in school that adhere to the state’s new school nutrition policy.  All school districts in the state have implemented the most comprehensive policy in the nation, which covers pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students and limits fat and sugar content in foods offered in a la carte lines, snack bars and vending machines, school stores and as part of on-campus fund-raisers.

Photo of Secretary Kuperus speaking at Port Reading School “Now that all public schools in the state have implemented the policy, we hope to see a real change in children’s eating habits that they can take with them into adulthood,” said Secretary Kuperus.  “What better role models than New York Jets players – professional athletes – who make their living from keeping their bodies strong and healthy, to bring the message to students of the importance of good nutrition.”

Both Secretary Kuperus and Matt Higgins, Jets Senior Vice President of Business Operations, extolled the value of cooperating on this issue.

“We are proud of this partnership with the State of New Jersey to instill good nutrition habits in our children and implement healthy options in cafeterias for students,” said Higgins. “Proper diet and exercise are what helps make our players elite athletes and healthy individuals.  We hope through the example set by D'Brickashaw and his teammates that we can make a lasting impact on the lives of many children.”

Six schools will be honored this school year for having the most creative meal selections using the school nutrition policy standards and for having exceptional wellness programs.  More than 60 schools applied for the Eat Right, Move More contest, now in its second year.  The prize for five of the winning schools -- Port Reading School #9, Rittenberg Middle School in Egg Harbor City, Northfield Elementary in Northfield, Cecil S. Collins Elementary in Barnegat Township and Halsted Middle School in Newton -- is a visit from Jets players. 

One school, Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, was randomly selected from among the six winning schools to be honored on the field of the December 9th Jets game against the Cleveland Browns.  The school will select eight representatives to attend the game that day.

Port Reading School #9, which has 400 students, pre-kindergarten to 5th grade, fully implemented the state’s nutrition policy this school year, offering many healthier menu items.  There also are a variety of wellness programs.  First-graders jump rope to raise money for the American Hearth Association; fifth-graders participate in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk-a-thon; fourth- and fifth-graders take part in the Fit Kids program with the local YMCA, where an exercise trainer comes in once a week; and, students participate in an intramural sports program.

In addition, the school is one of four in the Woodbridge Township School District that offers a school breakfast program.

Principal of Port Reading School # 9, John Bader, said the school and the entire district are thankful for being recognized in the Eat Right, Move More program.

“This award is a tribute to the commitment our students and staff have made to living a healthier lifestyle,” said Bader.  “At School #9, our mission is to develop life long learners who are responsible citizens prepared to enter the global society.  Having our students learn the importance of exercise and nutrition is an integral part of fulfilling this mission.  I know this visit by D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Adrien Clarke has further motivated our students to incorporate healthy habits every day.”

Ferguson, an offensive tackle, spokesman for the Eat Right, Move More program for the second straight year, is featured on posters in every school telling students, “When I have a healthy meal, it helps me play my best.  Your school cafeteria has a variety of nutritious foods to keep you going all day long.  So get up, eat right and move more!”

“I am honored to be a part of the Eat Right, Move More program,” said Ferguson. “I know from experience that good eating habits and regular exercise are key not only to becoming a professional athlete, but for every kid to lead a healthier life.”

As a professional football team that plays in New Jersey, the Jets regularly promote youth health, fitness, and education, particularly in disadvantaged communities. Over the past seven years, the Jets and their charitable foundation have donated or raised millions of dollars to promote youth health, fitness, and education.