Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – Today marked the start of National School Lunch Week, and the New Jersey Lottery and New Jersey Department of Agriculture launched the observance of this milestone week with a tour of Osage Elementary School. This Voorhees elementary school will benefit from a Healthy School Recognition Grant the Department recently awarded to 10 school districts in the state. The Voorhees School District received $2,500, made possible through a United States Department of Agriculture Local Wellness Grant received by New Jersey’s Agriculture Department, to fund an annual Educating, Eating and Exercising Day for its students.
The New Jersey Lottery is a primary source of support for the State portion of New Jersey’s School Nutrition Programs. The Lottery’s Acting Executive Director William T. Jourdain, praising the School Nutrition Programs, said, “It is always a wonderful thing to see the revenues we raise flowing out into the community and improving a part of someone’ life. We recognize the important work that the Department of Agriculture does in ensuring that the nutritional needs of all our schoolchildren are met, and we are proud to be able to provide support for their hard work.”
The Department administers School Nutrition Programs. In the 2006-2007 school year, average daily participation in the School Lunch program was 637,152 students. For the School Breakfast program, average daily participation was 142,427. This school year, all districts in the state were required to have implemented the nation’s most comprehensive school nutrition guidelines.
"The National School Lunch Program is dedicated to ensuring the health and well-being of our children and this year during National School Lunch Week, we are celebrating implementation of New Jersey's Model School Nutrition Policy that has increased the nutritional value of foods found on cafeteria ala carte lines," said Emma Davis-Kovacs, Director the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Division of Food and Nutrition. "Voorhees School District is among the top districts in the State for not only implementing our base standards but going over and above those requirements and incorporating many innovative approaches into teaching students about good nutrition and healthy lifestyles."
Diane Young, principal of Osage Elementary School, said that the Voorhees community takes pride in the school's outstanding instructional program and how students there excel in their academics. Principal Young also noted that students’ lessons do not need to be confined to a classroom: "Although academics are important, we want our children to be healthy and happy in their learning environment. We know that providing our students with nutritious lunches each day helps them to be healthier, which in turn positively impacts their ability to learn. Healthy students have strong minds. We agree that it takes a village to raise our children, and the food service staff helps us teach our children how to make healthy choices every time they walk through the food line. These lessons will stay with them throughout their lives."
Davis-Kovacs, Food Service Director Debra Zee, Jourdain and Young watch a demonstration of how the district's computerized lunch payment system (MealPay) works.
“When we talk about Lottery revenues ‘benefiting education and institutions’, initiatives like this are exactly what we mean,” concluded Lottery Director Jourdain, “At the end of the day, it’s nice to see our players benefit from the Lottery. But it’s even better to realize that our entire New Jersey community benefits as a whole—players and non-players alike.”