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September 24, 2012

Team Nutrition Training Grant – The Department has received a $324,151 Team Nutrition Training Grant that will be used to plant school gardens, help students make healthier food choices and train personnel on a variety of wellness issues.  The grant, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is geared toward helping schools meet the new federal meal requirements.  The NJDA will work with Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s Department of Family and Community Health Sciences on the two-year grant project, continuing the mission of a similar Team Nutrition Training Grant received in 2010.  However, the most recent grant will include child care centers, as well as elementary schools.

New School Lunch Menu Taste Test -- Secretary Fisher and Patricia Dombroski, Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service Mid-Atlantic Region, joined a panel of middle and high school students, school district officials and other dignitaries at Secaucus High/Middle School in Secaucus today in sampling new school lunch menu items that meet healthier federal guidelines enacted this school year.  On the tasting menu prepared by Secaucus Schools food service were:  Grilled Chicken Pasta Primavera, Whole Grain Lasagna Rolette,   Green Beans Roma, Garlic Stick, Cannellini Bean Salad, Chilled Green Bean Salad,  Hummus & Vegetable Platter, Fruit & Cheese Platter,   Freshly Baked Apple Crisp.  The federal Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act school lunch regulations require more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk, fat-free flavored milk and strict limits on saturated fat and portion size.

Farm to School Week Events Planned -- The 2nd annual Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week will be held September 24-28 to encourage schools to purchase produce from local farmers to incorporate in school meals. The Department, in cooperation with the New Jersey Farm to School Network, has planned events to highlight two of the many successful farm to school programs:

Monday, September 24 – Awarding of School Garden of the Year Award, Eugene A. Tighe Middle School, Margate

Thursday, September 27 – Debut of New School Salad Bar, Elizabeth Haddon Elementary School, Haddonfield

Many other schools throughout the state are planning their own Farm to School Week celebrations.  Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week was established by law to bring attention to the Farm to School Program, which connects schools to local farmers to increase the amount of local fresh produce available for consumption by students during the school day.

Food Bank Grants -- Secretary Fisher joined NJ Dept. of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable on September 4 at the Lacey Food Bank to announce the awarding of $225,610 in Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funding to six major food banks in the state. The grants will help the food banks better distribute and store donated food, including ‘Jersey Fresh’ fruits and vegetables, so that more individuals in need can be served.

Youth Scholarships – The Department is now accepting applications for the $1,000 Sara Dubinin Scholarship and the $500 New Jersey Agricultural Achievement Award.  The Sara Dubinin Scholarship will be presented a 4-H or FFA members applicant aged 13 to 16 to help pursue their equine activities.  The Agricultural Achievement award, sponsored by Amy Butewicz, a former New Jersey Equestrian of the Year, will be presented to a New Jersey resident who is entering his or her senior year in high school this fall and is planning a career in agriculture or science.  Both awards will be presented at the New Jersey Bred Equine Breeder Awards Luncheon on January 27, 2013 At Charley’s Other Brother Restaurant in Eastampton.  For information on how to apply, contact Debra Moscatiello at 609-984-4389 or 

Equine Diseases -- Within the past week, two more New Jersey horses have been found infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).  Both horses, 2 year-old unvaccinated males, were located on the same farm in Camden County. Both animals were humanely euthanized. To date, there are six confirmed positive equine cases of EEE in New Jersey – one in Atlantic County, two in Burlington and three in Camden.  To date there are three confirmed positive equine cases of West Nile Virus in New Jersey – one in Salem and two in Monmouth. 

Copepod Mosquito Control Program -- During the 2012 mosquito breeding season, a total of 80,000 mosquito predators, Macrocyclops albidus, were reared at the Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory and released in Morris, Passaic, Bergen, Cape May, Burlington and Ocean counties.  The copepod program is in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and County Mosquito Control Commissions, which are hopeful that “super stocking” small reservoirs of water, rather than distributing the copepods among multiple sites, will result in better mosquito control.  The NJDEP will be compiling a report with release and control data for the season.

Honey -- The estimated honey crop this year is about one-third of normal, due to early warm-up followed by cold, windy and rainy weather during the major honey flow. The early buildup caused colonies to swarm when they should have been storing honey.  Beekeepers need a large population of bees in a colony in order to make a good honey crop.

Seabrook Super Chef -- Secretary Fisher and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno were among the judges of a chef competition at the senior citizen housing development Seabrook Village in Tinton Falls on September 6. The theme of the event was Jersey Fresh and three chef/resident pairs were instructed to use produce and create an entree in 35 minutes.  The winning dish was a visually and palate-pleasing crepe packet filled with vegetables.