Acting Governor Kim Guadagno signed several measures August 25 that seek to increase access and awareness of the New Jersey Farm to School program. The Program provides agriculture products to schools and school districts to serve healthy meals that improve student nutrition, provide health and nutrition education opportunities and support local farmers.
Among the bills signed into law were the following:
- P.L.2014, c.37 (A-156 / S-1902 (Space/Barnes) – requires the New Jersey Farm to School program to promote successful partnerships with schools and school districts and the farmers who provide them with fresh foods. The bill also requires the Department of Agriculture to promote the New Jersey Farm to School program on their website.
- P.L.2014, c.38 (A-2641 / S-1903 (Space/Barnes) – allows taxpayers to voluntarily contribute on their gross income tax return to the "New Jersey Farm to School and School Garden Fund."
- P.L.2014, c.40 (A-2643 / S-1907 (Space / Barnes) – requires the Department of Agriculture to celebrate schools and school districts that successfully incorporate farm-to-school principles into their school meals and snacks through an annual "Best Farm to School Awards Program." Consideration for the awards will include innovative use of farm produce and products in schools; outstanding and consistent high levels of nutritional balance; and an increase in students' awareness of the contribution of farmers and farms to the quality of a school's meals and snacks.
- P.L.2014, c.39 (A-2642 / S-1903 (Andrzejczak / Barnes) – allows the Department of Agriculture to accept donations towards the Farm to School program.
- P.L.2014, c.41 (A-2644 / S-1964 (Space / Beach) – directs the Department of Agriculture to create a website similar to an online help-wanted ad that would allow farmers to connect to schools, school districts and food banks to sell produce or dairy products as part of the Farm to School program.
More than 250 New Jersey schools currently participate in a "Farm to School" program – connecting school nutrition with local farms, improving the quality of school meals and strengthening relationships in the community. The program also helps children understand where their food comes from through the integration of food-related education into the curriculum and hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits and culinary classes.
In 2011, Governor Christie signed legislation to establish the last week of September as "Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week" in New Jersey to highlight and promote the value of New Jersey agriculture and fresh foods, as well as the value and importance of fresh farm foods for children, their health and success in school.
NJPSA, a supporter of the legislative package, was on hand for the bill signing.