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Programs Will Bring More Fresh Fruits and Vegetables to Students

For Immediate Release: August 3, 2004


Jeff Beach




(TRENTON) – More students will get to know the true meaning of “Jersey Fresh” the next two school years, thanks to a federal grant secured by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Division of Food and Nutrition.

The $200,000 Nutrition Training Grant through the United States Department of Agriculture will fund four programs over two years designed to make fresh fruits and vegetables a more regular part of students’ diets. New Jersey was among 21 states to get the grants, which were announced July 26 by the USDA.

The grants will supplement the Department’s on-going efforts as part of the McGreevey administration’s “Healthy Choices, Healthy Kids” initiative, which includes nutrition information and exercise and seeks to make school lunch and breakfast menus more nutritious.

“These are the kinds of programs that can make a difference in children making smart choices when it comes to selecting produce over less-nutritious foods,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus. “We’ve also included components that educate their parents, which means the healthy choices won’t stop when they exit the school doors at the end of the day.”

NJDA Division of Food and Nutrition Director Kathy Kuser said programs to be funded include:

- School food service managers will be trained to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their meals and a la carte offerings. Tactics for marketing and promoting these products will be addressed to achieve the goal of students eating more of these healthy foods.
- Pilot schools will be funded to promote and expose children to more fruits and vegetables, providing exposure in school meal programs to different types of produce. This expanded knowledge and hands-on experience is expected to lead to children consuming greater quantities of fruits and vegetables.
- Mini-grants to 10 elementary schools (chosen through competitive applications) to provide after-school nutrition education programs for both students and their parents.
- Meetings with school business administrators to work on raising schools’ nutrition policy standards.

The NJDA Division of Food and Nutrition oversees the USDA free- and reduced-price lunch and breakfast programs for schools throughout New Jersey, and is involved in numerous activities designed to create a healthier diet for school children.

“These Team Nutrition grants provide schools with an additional resource to promote the importance of exercise and good nutrition,” USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman said.

“With the assistance of this grant, we will be able to bring healthy eating to even more young people, which is vitally important in an age where good nutrition has taken on added significance,” added Secretary Kuperus. “It’s a bonus that as we teach students and their families about healthier eating, they will be more likely to buy Jersey Fresh produce, creating more demand for the delicious, nutritious products our farmers grow.”