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New School Nutrition and Wellness Initiatives for Staten Island Schools

Staten Island, NY – Borough President James S. Oddo is pleased to announce his initiatives regarding his work to improve school nutrition and wellness.

“Policies matter. Leadership matters. Outcomes can change. Problems can be resolved. Science, data, empathy, creativity – all play a role. Our team at Borough Hall leaves no stone unturned when it comes to finding ways to better the lives of Staten Islanders, and food policy and the role of nutrition and education in schools is no exception,” said Borough President Oddo. “Thank you to the Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative for your fight working to overcome childhood obesity on Staten Island, and thank you to our community partners for working with us on these vital initiatives to improve the lives of Staten Island students.”

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Below is a list of school nutrition and wellness initiative partnerships Borough President Oddo is working on that were announced at the 4th Annual Staten Island School Garden Summit:

Partnering with the Department of Education’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services (OFNS) for a Staten Island Fresh Fruit and Vegetable of the Month Island-wide Pilot. This pilot, which will be run on Staten Island in Prek-8 Lunch Menus at participating schools, will feature a highlighted fruit or vegetable of the month from September 2019 – June 2020. Additionally, student advocates will be chosen by their school principal to represent the fruit or vegetable of the month item during their lunch period. They will circulate a card featuring a plant-based recipe including the highlighted fruit or vegetable of the month. Peer to peer has proven to be one of the best ways to deliver the nutritional education message. We are working to expand this pilot program.

Additionally,  United Activities Unlimited (UAU) will create a solution to the lack of maintenance for school gardens over the summer months. Our offices are working together to enable the Summer Youth Employment Program children to maintain the gardens while the schools are out of session. Brian Licata of UAU and the Snug Harbor farmers offer their expertise in order to keep these produce gardens alive over the summer.

City Harvest and Staten Island Performing Provider System (SI PPS) are working together to expand Cooking Matters at School, a 6-week hands-on cooking and nutrition program integrated into the school day curriculum. City Harvest and SI PPS have come together to fund a nutritionist and are working directly with our office to bring this course back to the classrooms with a plant-based twist on it.

While speaking on the Borough Presidents on NYC Food Policy panel that took place in April at Hunter College, Borough President Oddo was introduced to the company Beetbox. Beetbox fills teaching gaps in Early Education by using food as a vehicle to teach STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) and eliminates the need for teachers to prepare and plan. Teachers receive monthly learning kits which include detailed lesson plans, required materials, and fresh ingredients. Every Beetbox includes science experiments, planting, cooking, art and engineering projects, literacy, dramatic play, decomposition studies, and songs. Our office is working to fund Beetboxes for a number of schools in the 2019-2020 school-year.

Garden to Café is a DOE program that connects school and community gardens with school lunch meals through seasonal harvest events and educational activities. Currently, the program is active in 200 schools within NYC, about 12 of which are on Staten Island. However, the procurement of fresh fruits and vegetables is most difficult within this program. The Staten Island Borough President’s office is working with OFNS and Snug Harbor Cultural Center to see if it is possible to buy local by using Snug’s produce in the Garden to Café program and ease the burden of procurement.