Sustainable Jersey for Schools representatives announced that Toms River Regional Schools has been awarded a Sustainable Jersey for Schools Small Grant. TRRS is one of thirty schools and districts in New Jersey to receive a Sustainable Jersey for Schools Small Grant funded by the New Jersey Department of Health in this funding cycle.
Funding in the amount of $4k will support the purchase of mobile food carts in line with the district’s proposed Mobile Breakfast Academy, which will bring grab-and-go breakfast options directly to high school students getting off the bus and arriving from the parking lot.
“This is an initiative that our Food Services Department and its director, Pete Brattan, have pushed for some time now,” said Superintendent David Healy. “We’re honored and excited to have earned the backing of Sustainable NJ, and we look forward to working with them and their regional partner to make our students and schools healthier and increase our breakfast participation numbers.”
In its application to Sustainable Jersey for Schools, the district touted its capacity to carry out the Mobile Breakfast Academy program as well as the factors that helped define the need. “Low breakfast participation numbers,” the application argued, “a propensity among high schoolers to avoid cafeteria congregation before the bell, and notably early high school start times (7:15 a.m.) have inspired our district to meet students where they’re at-- coming off the buses or in from the parking lot-- and Mobile Breakfast Academy will do just that.”
The “Academy” theme of the program is in line with the new Career Academies opening at each high school this year. The spirit of the program is to provide students quick, healthy breakfast options that reflect the fast-moving nature of college and the real world. Students will be greeted with an array of nutritious breakfast options in a grab-and-go style, which they’ll be able to consume in the classroom with the support of high school principals and teachers.
“The board is always looking for ways to improve student achievement,” said School Board President Ben Giovine. “The research is clear that a healthy breakfast is a primary factor related to student performance, although it too often gets overlooked. We support anything that betters the health of our students, but this program in particular is appealing because it’s simple yet unique, a contemporary breakfast option for students on the go.”
Mobile Breakfast Academy will support Sustainable Jersey for School’s “Breakfast After the Bell” action initiative, and its successful implementation will earn the district and its registered schools Sustainable NJ certification points. While it will be piloted at the high school level, TRRS seeks to make Breakfast After the Bell a district-wide initiative.
Currently, 273 districts and 679 schools have registered to work toward Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification. “Sustainable schools are healthy schools, and schools that promote health and well-being will see benefits,” said Randall Solomon, executive director of Sustainable Jersey. “These grants, funded by the New Jersey Department of Health, will support schools as they tackle important health and wellness actions.”
The New Jersey Department of Health is funding the grants through its Maternal and Child Health Services Title V Block Grant. The grants will be administered by three of the Department of Health’s regional partners: AtlantiCare (south), EmPoWER Somerset (central) and The Center for Prevention and Counseling (north).
This award marks Toms River Regional Schools’ second Sustainable NJ grant this year. In May it was announced that the district had earned a $20k grant from Sustainable NJ to renovate the Poseidon Academy downtown, an award that was facilitated through Toms River Township and its Green Team. According to long-tenured district personnel, the grant is also the first received by the Food Services Department.
Toms River Regional Schools becomes the first Ocean County grantee to work with the NJDOH’s regional partner, EmPoWER Somerset.
About Sustainable Jersey for Schools
Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a certification program for public schools in New Jersey. It was launched by Sustainable Jersey, an organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward municipalities and schools as they pursue sustainability programs.
Sustainable Jersey for Schools is underwritten by the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Clean Energy Program, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). The 2017 Sustainable Jersey for Schools small grants program is funded by the PSEG Foundation, NJEA, the Gardinier Environmental Fund and the New Jersey Department of Health. Founding Sponsor contributors are South Jersey Gas, New Jersey Natural Gas and NJM Insurance Group. Bayer Foundation and Investors Bank are Silver Sponsors.
Program partners include: NJSBA, NJEA, New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA), New Jersey Association of School Business Officials (NJASBO), New Jersey Parent Teacher Association (NJPTA), New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA), New Jersey School Buildings and Grounds Association (NJSBGA) and The Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
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