New Jersey’s cornucopia of fruits and vegetables overflows from the cafeteria to the classrooms of Lakewood School District, giving teachers a chance to fuel their students’ academic performance while teaching a quick lesson on eating right as Sodexo serves up local produce to all children in the classroom.
A $75,000 New Jersey’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant, secured by nutrition-provider Sodexo for Lakewood School District, will make fresh and local produce abundantly available in schools throughout the state.
The grant, administered by New Jersey’s Department of Agriculture for the third consecutive year, provides the Lakewood School District with fresh produce throughout the 2010-2011 school year and allows Sodexo to teach students about the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diet. Sodexo is using the grant to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for more than 1,600 elementary school students at both Ella G. Clarke School and Spruce Street School in Lakewood.
Sodexo, a 20-year strategic partner with the Lakewood School District, fills bags with local fruits and vegetables twice each week throughout the entire school year. The Sodexo team works closely with teachers to deliver the fresh produce to students to eat and enjoy in their classroom. This system promotes fruit and vegetables consumption as part of a daily routine, in addition to the school lunch students get in the cafeteria.
Getting students to eat fruits and vegetables can be challenging but Sodexo engages them with fun, interactive and informative programs. For example, the A to Z Salad Bar expands student palates in a fun way by allowing them to try a fruit or vegetable from every letter of the alphabet. Another program, arranges for visits from local farmers and food producers to teach students about where their food comes from.
“We really enjoy participating in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and we are particularly proud that we are able to use both the grant money and our student well-being expertise to get more Lakewood students eating fruits and vegetables,” said Armida Caldwell, general manager for Sodexo. “This program is only successful if you get the kids to eat the food and we think our approach makes healthy eating and nutrition education fun and exciting.”
In addition to Lakewood, six Sodexo-served districts in New Jersey are also receiving 2010-2011 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program funds including:
- Atlantic City School District – Atlantic City, N.J.
- East Orange School District – East Orange, N.J.
- Long Branch Public Schools – Long Branch, N.J.
- Phillipsburg School District – Phillipsburg, N.J.
- Plainfield Public Schools – Plainfield, N.J.
- West Orange Public Schools – West Orange, N.J.
Sodexo is observing National School Lunch Week, Oct. 11 to 15 by highlighting innovative programs in the 480 school districts it serves. Sodexo is committed to take measurable sustainable actions that ensure a brighter future in the areas of health and wellness, environmental stewardship and community development. Sodexo School Services focuses on nutrition, achievement, environment, community and activity to promote student well-being.