LAWRENCE TWP., N.J. — The New Jersey Department of Agriculture on Tuesday visited the Procacci Brothers Farm in Cumberland County to highlight Jersey Tastes! during the celebration of the 8th annual Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week being held Sept. 24-28.
During the week, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture is showcasing schools and farms that are examples of how connecting local produce and schools increases student consumption of healthy school meals. The visit to the Procacci Brothers highlighted Jersey Tastes!, which encourages schools to feature a different fruit or vegetable every month. The vegetable for September is the tomato.
“The Farm to School program continues to create enthusiasm in schools around the state for schools to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetable into their daily menu options,” New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher said. “When schools can use food from their own gardens it encourages students to taste them. Having local farms like the Procacci Brothers involved is very important in making this program such a big success in the state.”
Procacci Brothers Sales Corporation began in 1948 in Camden, N.J., when brothers Joe and Mike Procacci sold repacked tomatoes out of their basement. The company has grown into a vertically integrated produce powerhouse that develops its own seeds, grows, packs and distributes produce throughout North America, with operations in California, Arizona, Mexico, Florida, Puerto Rico, Georgia, North Carolina and New Jersey.
Procacci’s Ag-Mart Produce growing operation in Cedarville includes a packing facility on the 1,600-acre site. Earlier this year, Procacci Brothers donated and constructed a greenhouse to Bridgeton High School, where the school can grow a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to incorporate into the school menu. Procacci Brothers also donated 600 tomato plants to the school.
“We believe playing an active role in the communities where we are located is very important and we are very pleased to be involved with Bridgeton High School,” said Procacci Brothers Director of Business Development and Special Projects Lou Struble. “It’s also important for us to have students understand how food is grown and to see them take an active role in the growing process is very rewarding. It will help them understand more about agriculture and appreciate the healthy food that farms produce.”
The Procacci Brothers visit highlighted Jersey Tastes! featuring tomatoes grown on the farm. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture is asking everyone to post their Jersey Tastes! events each month on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by using the #jerseytastes! hashtag. A complete Jersey Tastes! schedule for the year, including resources on how to implement the program, is on the Farm to School website.
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 fresh fruits and vegetables.
To learn more, visit www.farmtoschool.nj.gov.
During the 2017-18 school year, the influence of the Farm to School Program led to 255 schools purchasing some local produce from their main distributor, 223 districts buying local produce directly from farms, 212 districts using a curriculum that ties cafeteria meals to healthy eating education and 114 districts organizing field trips to farms.
— New Jersey Department of Agriculture