LONG BRANCH: On April 20 Long Branch School Superintendent Michael Salvatore introduced New Jersey's Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher to students attending the George L. Catrambone Elementary School.
Fisher's visit was to help to introduce a partnership: the New Jersey Agriculture Department and the school system's new program of providing students with farm fresh fruits and veggies on the cafeteria menu.
Long Branch is among the first schools to be a part of the state-wide program, with Plainsboro, West Windsor, Keansburg, and East Orange soon to join in the pilot program.
Mr. Fisher greeted the 30 students gathered in the library with a question of what value does eating the right fresh foods each day mean to them.
"It builds our muscles", the first student said.
"It makes us healthier," said a second.
"We get our vitamins," said a third, "and keeps us growing strong."
Fisher was followed by the food server and management company Sodexo, the Edible Gardens farming company from Belvidere in North Jersey, Performance Food Group, and Salvatore. The collaborative effort was conceived with help from New Jersey Farm to School Network, an independent non-profit working to improve school foods.
Fourth Grade students Dejanay and Patrick led the flag salute for the start of the program and led a tour of the school cafeteria where other students were enjoying their lunch period.
In the cafeteria students were happily selecting veggies and other fresh food choices with excited and happy faces. They awarded a thank you card to Fisher and the program contributors.