New Jersey Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Division Director Rose Tricario today presented Anthony V. Ceres Elementary School in Perth Amboy with the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program VIP (Very Impressive Produce) Award.
This new award program highlights schools in the Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program that are doing an exceptional job at promoting fruits and vegetables and healthy lifestyles to their students. Ceres School was selected for the first place prize for providing a comprehensive program integrating the entire school community in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) and wellness activities. In addition, they serve Jersey Fresh produce, have a school garden and engage the students in the FFVP preparation and distribution.
“The FFVP can be transformative not only to the students who are consuming more fresh produce, but also to the school environment itself,” said Director Tricario. “Schools treat the FFVP as a special time when all students get to enjoy a healthy snack together and celebrate the farmers who grow our food. We congratulate Ceres School for their exemplary efforts.”
Ceres School has offered the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, a federally-funded initiative that provides grants to schools to provide fresh produce as snacks to students in schools where 50 percent or more of the students receive free or reduced-price lunch, for three years. The school also has a garden planted with seeds from the fruits and vegetables in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
“Our students love the program – they look forward to each serving day and what will be served,” said school principal Michelle Velez-Jonte. “They spread the news to their families. Many parents continue to look for some of the unique fruits to purchase for their families.”
Tricario presented the school with a plaque and a banner. The school also will be able to choose either a salad bar, nutrition education resources, physical education resources or a piece of a equipment to aid in delivery of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. After the presentation, the officials visited a class to see them sample red anjou pears.
Two other schools were winners of the VIP Award this school year. West New York Public School #2 received 2nd-place honors and George L. Catrambone School in Long Branch came in third. The schools will receive plaques and banners with the FFVP logo. More than 20 schools applied to the award program.
The Department awarded $4,096,652 in grants to 157 schools in 15 counties serving 78,759 students through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for the 2015-2016 school year. The program provides students with fresh produce as snacks during the school day to teach them about proper nutrition and increase their consumption of healthy foods. Additional funding was given to schools that purchase produce from New Jersey farmers for the program.
To learn more about the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NJDeptofAgriculture and www.facebook.com/JerseyFreshOfficial or Twitter @NJDA1 and @JerseyFreshNJDA.