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Acting Governor Kim Guadagno signed five bills today at Terhune Orchards in Lawrence Township to streamline the New Jersey “Farm to School” program which aims to increase student access to healthy, locally-grown foods.

New Jersey “Farm-to-School” program is an independent non-profit and the state lead for the National Farm to School Network, which enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools, according to the National Network. The program also includes education through classroom and school gardens where students engage in hands-on learning through gardening.

“Children who live in the Garden State should have ready access to the more than 100 varieties of produce grown by our state’s 9,000-plus farms,” said Acting Governor Kim Guadagno.

The unanimously passed bills, supporting the “Farm to School” program, raise awareness of the program, create potential revenue streams for continued development and create a clearinghouse web portal to allow farmers to better connect with schools and food banks.

The bills signed today also establish “Best in New Jersey ‘Farm to School’ Awards Program” to annually recognize the best Farm to School programs implemented by a school or school district.  More than 250 New Jersey schools 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.

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Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY Binghamton and a Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall Law School. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, creative endeavors, and photographing mushrooms. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), holds a seat on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, and is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance.

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