TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher has announced $10,000 in competitive mini grants is available to schools or school districts for the purpose of developing Farm to School activities in New Jersey schools. The grant money can be used for the purchase of materials to support school gardens that grow fruits or vegetables, the cost to transport and pay for class trips to New Jersey farms, or the purchase of cafeteria salad bars that will increase the offering of fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals.
“The Farm to School program is a wonderful way for students of all ages to become engaged in activities that help them learn and appreciate more about fruits and vegetables and where they come from,” Secretary Fisher said. “Farm to School programs enhance what already takes place in the classroom and educate students about food and farming.”
Funds have been made available through legislation signed into law in 2014, which allows contributions to the New Jersey Farm to School Program through the Farm to School and School Garden Fund tax check-off. Additional legislation signed in 2014 created the Farm to School Donor Fund, making it possible for private donations to supplement Farm to School activities in the state. Mini grant applications will be open until Dec. 15.
More than 100 types of fruits and vegetables are grown in the Garden State. Opportunities exist for New Jersey farmers to provide agricultural products to school food service departments throughout and beyond the growing season. The object of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias is to improve student nutrition and help students make lifelong, healthy choices.
Farm to School Programs also include school garden activities that teach students where food comes from by growing it themselves. Students benefit by learning the science behind farming and the nutritional value of fresh produce to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the environment and supporting local farmers. Educators can use school garden programs to teach any subject — math, science, language arts, health and nutrition, art or social studies. In New Jersey, Farm to School Programs promote and create a sense of community for all involved.
A school or school district may apply for a mini grant on behalf of a school(s) that:
- Currently participates and administers, in good standing, the USDA National School Lunch Program
- Provides an explanation of how these funds will be utilized to increase Farm to School activities throughout the intended grant period
- Submits a Letter of Support from the school Principal Administrator stating support for these efforts
For more information on mini grants click here and for information about the New Jersey Farm to School Program, visit www.farmtoschool.nj.gov.
— New Jersey Department of Agriculture