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Farm To School Winner - Click to enlarge

September 25, 2017
PO Box 330
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330

Jeff Wolfe
P: (609) 633-2954
C: (609) 433-1785

Ethel Jacobsen School Recognized for Connecting Students with Fresh, Local Produce

(SURF CITY) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher presented Ethel Jacobsen Elementary School in Surf City with the “Best in New Jersey Farm to School Award” Monday morning during an assembly. The presentation took place during the celebration of the 7th annual Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week being held September 25-29.

“We applaud the Ethel Jacobsen School and the Long Beach Island School District not only for all the effort put into their Farm to School program but the enthusiasm with which they have approached it,” said Secretary Fisher. “From their excellent school garden to joining with the school food service and the community, the Jacobsen School exemplifies the spirit of this award. We also want to congratulate school nurse Bianca Aniski who spearheaded the program.”

Ethel Jacobsen School, with students in Pre-K through second grade, showed its enthusiasm for the Farm To School program when it held a "Kale-a-Palooza" last spring, utilizing kale grown in their own hoop house. Students made smoothies using bicycle blenders, held taste tests, and skyped with an author. The school’s website also features a time-lapse video showing how different fruits and vegetables grow in the garden and a photo album showing students working in the garden.

“I enjoy my work as a school nurse for the many opportunities to promote wellness and the school garden is a great way to do that,” Aniski said. “I love the E.J. school because we are growing great minds and we believe healthy students make better learners. We work together like a finely tuned instrument made of creative teachers, supportive staff members, and a caring principal.”

Along with kale, the garden has also featured strawberries, cucumbers, beans, peppers, carrots, spinach, onions, lettuce, radish, and other produce.

"Bianca is doing an outstanding job of not only talking about what it takes to live a healthy life, but demonstrating a way to accomplish a healthy lifestyle by leading the students and their efforts in the school garden,” said Ethel Jacbosen School Principal Frank Birney. “Our children have the opportunity to eat healthy food now and they also understand the process and work it takes to grow the food. It’s a great lesson for the students and the staff to be a part of. Bianca and the students are very deserving of the award.” 

Secretary Fisher also announced 24 schools from around the state that entered the Farm to School Recognition Program for the current school year. They 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 teaching about agriculture through growing school gardens. Other requirements included: utilizing produce from their school gardens, offering a salad bar, connecting farm to school activities to curriculum, and involving the community.

The 24 Jersey Fresh Farm to School Recognition Program Schools are:

Joseph R Bolger Elementary School - Keansburg
George L Catrambone School – Long Branch
Chatham High School - Chatham
Chatham Middle School - Chatham
Martha B Day School - Bloomingdale
Essex County Vocational Technical – West Caldwell
Hamburg School – Hamburg
Harmony Township School - Phillipsburg
High Bridge Elementary School – High Bridge
Ethel A Jacobsen Elementary School – Surf City
Lafayette School - Chatham
Long Pond School - Andover
Memorial School – Union Beach
Milton Ave School - Chatham
Lester C Noecker School – Roseland
PS#2 – West New York
Randolph Middle School -  Randolph
Anna C Scott Elementary – Leonia
Southern Boulevard School - Chatham
Union County Educational Services Commission - Westfield
Van Derveer School – Somerville
Wantage Elementary School - Wantage
Washington Avenue Elementary School - Chatham
White Twp. Consolidated School – Belvidere

Jersey Fresh Farm to School Recognition schools receive a promotional materials kit, including a Jersey Fresh Farm to School banner, aprons, pencils, seasonality charts and taste test stickers. Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week was designated as the last week of each September by a law signed in 2010 by Governor Christie. During this week, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture is showcasing schools that connect with New Jersey farmers to purchase local produce for school meals to increase student consumption of healthy produce.

Farm to School programs provide hands-on, experiential learning opportunities to help students learn about local agriculture, how food grows and what it means to eat healthy with lots 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

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