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Photo of a slide about the HUSSCA - Click to enlarge
Federal, State Officials Present School with Award

For Immediate Release: October 19, 2012
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(CAPE MAY CITY) – United States Department of Agriculture and New Jersey Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition officials today presented Cape May City Elementary School in Cape May with the HealthierUS School Challenge Award, which recognizes schools that promote good nutrition and physical activity.

The school is one of only five schools in the state that attained the Silver Level of the award, which earned the district $1,000. 

“Cape May City School’s achievement shows just how much can be accomplished toward improving the nutrition environment when the whole school community works together,” said Rose Tricario, New Jersey Department of Agriculture Division of Food and Nutrition Director.  “Cape May City has made eating well and exercise priorities to better equip its students to do their best.  We encourage the school to continue to build upon its success and reach higher levels of the award.”

Photo from HUSSCA Ceremony in Cape May City
Rose Tricario, James Harmon, Marianne Linnington, Cape May City Mayor Edward MaHaney, teacher Sandy Sandmeyer-Bryan and Marilou Rochford of Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County at the awards ceremony.

The HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) is a voluntary national certification initiative for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program.  Sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the initiative encourages all schools to take a leadership role in helping students to make healthier eating and physical activity choices that will last a lifetime. 

“Achieving the HealthierUS School Challenge recognition demonstrates the Cape May City School District’s deep commitment to create and maintain a healthy school environment,” said James Harmon, Director of Special Nutrition Programs, USDA Food and Nutrition Service.  “Cape May City Elementary School can serve as a model for others seeking to make improvements.”

To achieve the silver level of the award, the school, which has 142 pre-kindergarten to sixth-grade students, added more dark and leafy green vegetables, more red and orange vegetables and added more whole grain products, according to Marianne Linnington, Cape May City Schools Food Service Director.

“The entire school community pulled together to make this a very positive and rewarding experience,” said Linnington.  “The students were really open-minded to trying new foods and have always loved the physical education portion of their day.”

Linnington said they use Jersey Fresh produce whenever possible and the school has a garden.  The school also offers students tastings of fresh fruits and vegetables at its mid-morning snack time.

In addition, the school was one of nine schools in the state to receive a Team Nutrition Farm to School grant from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture last year for programs to help students eat more fruits and vegetables, learn about good nutrition and promote locally grown produce through the planting of a school garden. 

Cape May City Elementary School is among 50 in the state that have earned the HealthierUS School Challenge Award. Ultimately, FNS would like to see all schools receive a HUSSC award at any one of the four levels of superior performance:  Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Gold Award of Distinction.  Schools awarded receive a monetary incentive (Bronze $500, Silver $1,000, Gold $1,500, and Gold Award of Distinction $2,000), an award plaque signed by a USDA official, a banner to display in their school, and their name listed on the Team Nutrition Web site.

To qualify for an award, a school must submit a formal application and meet basic criteria set forth by the FNS for food that should be served in schools.  HealthierUS Schools must also have a local school wellness policy, as mandated by Congress.  Schools receiving a HUSSC award commit to meeting the criteria throughout their four year certification period.

Schools, such as Cape May City Elementary School, that champion the HUSSC work hard to make changes to their school nutrition environment in order to (1) improve the quality of the foods served, (2) provide students with nutrition education, and (3) provide students with physical education and opportunities for physical activity. 

For more information on the HealthierUS School Challenge, visit