For Immediate Release: November 9, 2015
AtlantiCare brought local food-sourcing knowledge to students grades k- 8 throughout Atlantic, Southern Ocean, and Cape May Counties through its Chefs in the Classroom program. Events were held in October, National Farm to School Month, which promotes connections between students and local food, and aims to improve child nutrition.
Throughout the month, AtlantiCare Healthy Schools, Healthy Children partnered with area chefs and farmers to bring healthy cooking demonstrations to area schools and to introduce students to the Garden State’s locally grown fresh, healthy foods. AtlantiCare health educators and chefs helped students to explore the connection between healthy, fresh foods and making better nutrition choices. Collectively, approximately 1,400 students and staff attended the 27 demonstrations, learning that preparing healthy foods grown in their community can be fun and easy.
“Food matters,” explained Laura Engelmann, MHA, Community Health & Wellness manager for AtlantiCare’s Healthy Schools program. “We want everyone to know the benefits of preparing healthy foods, and of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. We want these same foods finding their way in to lunch boxes and in to school cafeterias. Chefs in the Classroom helps introduce students to new, healthy foods and makes the concept of healthy eating tasty and fun.”
Local chefs participating in the demonstrations held throughout the month included Chef Olivia Bellano, “Chef Belle”, of Kitchen 19; Nicole LaTorre, of Eat Clean Org; Marci Lutski, Vegging at the Shore food blogger; Chef Ed Daggers, of Atlantic City Country Club; and Chefs Paul and Lauren Erbacher of Egg Harbor City.
Passionate about the relationship between the diner and his or her food, the Erbachers challenged the students at Egg Harbor City Community School by asking them to experience fresh, seasonal ingredients such as cabbage, beets and fresh herbs by making their own salad and dressing.
Jennifer LaMonaca, community supported agriculture owner and operator, Sea Salt CSA, located on B&B Farms in Galloway, shared freshly harvested produce with seventh- and eighth graders at Galloway Township Middle School. Students sampled beets and turnips. “We strive to bring awareness to our customers and community about the work we do as community assisted farmers, and to educate eaters about the importance of community-supported agriculture,” she said.
“Our students were excited to taste the farm fresh vegetables and to see how easy everything was to prepare,” said Shirley Oliver, Life Skills teacher, Galloway Township Middle School. Students tasted healthy local food through instructional taste testing. They gained knowledge about making healthful food choices, and learned and how local farming strengthens the economy and contributes to communities.
“AtlantiCare’s vision is to build healthy communities,” added Engelmann. “Sharing food farm-to-school and connecting students with local farms is one way Healthy Schools, Healthy Children promotes healthy communities.”
About AtlantiCare’s Healthy Schools, Healthy Children Program
AtlantiCare’s Healthy Schools, Healthy Children program works with area schools to create and sustain healthy school environments by providing resources and programming to ensure students are healthy and ready to learn. For more information about this or other AtlantiCare programs, or to find a provider, call the AtlantiCare Access Center 1-888-569-1000, visit www.atlanticare.org or find AtlantiCare on Facebook at www.facebook.com/atlanticare.
AtlantiCare, a member of Geisinger Health System, is an integrated system of services designed to help people achieve optimal health. It includes AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, AtlantiCare Health Engagement, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and AtlantiCare Health Services. Its more than 5,400 employees and more than 700 physicians serve the community in nearly 70 locations. A 2009 Malcolm Baldrige Award winner, AtlantiCare was also included in Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2010. ARMC became the 105th hospital in the nation to attain status as a Magnet™ designated hospital in March of 2004 and was redesignated a Magnet™ hospital in 2008 and 2013.