For Immediate Release: October 14,2016
Contact: Nancy Wood 609-292-8896
For Immediate Release: October 14,2016
(UNION CITY) – New Jersey Department of Agriculture Division of Food and Nutrition Director, Rose Tricario, marked National School Lunch Week and Farm to School Month with a visit to Union City High School in Union City to applaud the school district’s efforts to increase the number of students eating lunch each day, offering students nutritious, appealing meals that place an emphasis on eating fresh New Jersey produce.
“It is no longer enough to provide healthy meals to our State’s school children – we also must ensure the food is appealing, tastes good and interesting,” said Director Tricario. “We applaud Union City School District’s efforts, especially at the high school, where students have multiple choices of delicious and nutritious foods each day as well as cooking demonstrations.”
During the visit, Tricario, School Nutrition Program Coordinator Arleen Ramos-Szatmary, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service officials viewed the successful school lunch service, featuring a salad bar, panini, pizza, pasta, and Latin/Spanish stations, a grill and a demonstration kitchen where students can watch their food being prepared.
In honor of Farm to School Month, the school also highlighted local apples, spaghetti squash and tomatoes in the meal.
Anthony N. Dragona, Ed.D., Union City School Business Administrator, said the district embraced the Federal school nutrition standards early on and now, every student currently in their schools is eating healthier.
“The students who are 12th graders today have never had fried foods or anything other than whole grains in their school meals,” said Dragona. “While the Department of Agriculture has provided the school district with programmatic resources, Chartwells K-12, our food management company, has supported the district by sponsoring student focus groups to determine their menu interests, while presenting visually appealing and tasty entrees. As a result, we have seen increased student participation which is a testament to the students liking what they are being served and their appreciation for the effort that goes into the preparation of their meals.”
Union City participates in many of the Department of Agriculture’s programs, including the Community Eligibility Provision, which allows the district to serve lunch and breakfast free to all of its students, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program, which provides free fresh produce for snacks in eight of the district’s elementary schools, the School Breakfast Program, After School Dinner/Snack program and the Summer Food Service Program.
New Jersey schools implemented the 2010 Federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which required more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk, fat-free flavored milk, and limited saturated fat and portion size. It set requirements for school breakfast and snacks as well. Each day, an average of 657,814 students eat school lunch in New Jersey. National School Lunch Week was created by the School Nutrition Association to encourage participation in the National School Lunch Program and recognize the school districts providing healthy meals every day. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture administers the program in the Garden State. National Farm to School Month was created to make sure every student has equal access to locally grown and healthy food. This program gives schools the opportunity to visit farms, create school gardens and teach students how to cook with fresh fruits and vegetables. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Food and Nutrition, represents New Jersey as the state lead to the National Farm to School Network. For more information on the Department’s Farm to School Program visit www.farmtoschool.nj.gov.