Township of Irvington New Jersey

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Irvington Health Department Expands Mayor’s Wellness Campaign to Break Ground on Community Garden at Florence Avenue Elementary School

Irvington, NJ, May 22, 2014:  

The Irvington Health Department today announced for a ground breaking ceremony on a community fruits & vegetable garden at Florence Avenue Elementary School on May 29, 2014 at 9:00am- 10:00 am. Florence Avenue Elementary School is the second school to receive a garden grant as part of a Township-wide Mayor’s Wellness Campaign program that works with communities to increase access to healthy foods.

Over the past year, Mayor’s Wellness Campaign successfully worked together effectively . along with the Irvington Board of Education, Irvington Health Department , Irvington Housing Authority, Police Department, Fire Department, Parks & Recreation Department, local business, faith based and community partner· organizations to promote healthy physical activities and healthy nutrition option in the community. We established community gardens in commuruty, seniors citizen’s building & schools, created community walking clubs, seniors walking club, community gardening club, school’s gardening/ horticulture club, promote healthy food choices at local bodegas near schools, created an open I -play streets program where about 2000 ‘residents participated last year to promote healthy life style in the community. Today the program will begin its expansion to develop a garden at Florence Avenue Elementary School.

Obesity rates in the U.S. have increased dramatically over the last 30 years contributing largely to our healthcare cost and impacting the health of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 17% of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight with one fifth of children either obese or overweight. According to the 2010 New Jersey Childhood Obesity Study by the Rutgers Center for Health Policy, in the City urban areas about 44.2% of . children 3 to 18 years are overweight or obese. The 2005 New Jersey Youth Behavior Risk Factor Survey denoted that almost 27 percent of high school students are obese or overweight, and only 34 percent meet recommended levels of physical activity.

Elementary school gardens have been shown to improve academic achievement, create positive attitudes towards science and learning, and foster a pride of ownership of accomplishments in students. Additionally, the Florence Avenue Elementary School garden will teach students about healthy nutrition and the positive environmental impact of sustainable local food sources, as well as provide access to open spaces and outdoor recreation activities.

“Building this garden will bring together our students, parents and community members by providing a project that beautifies the school and teaches us about our food sources and our environment” said Mayor Wayne Smith. “Florence Avenue Elementary School is the perfect place for an urban garden to teach the kids about growing healthy foods” said April Magee, principal Florence Avenue Elementary School.

The public is invited to Mayor’s Wellness Campaign, along with the Irvington Mayor & Council, Irvington Public Schools, Irvington Health Department, Rutgers Cooperative Extension and Master Gardeners of Essex County in the ground breaking of the Florence Avenue Elementary School garden. More than 45 volunteers including students, teachers, parents and school staff members will be involved in hand shaping the landscape, building planter boxes and planting the new garden.

For more information please contact Dr. Atif Nazir, Health Officer: (973) 399-4746 or anazir@irvingtonnj.org. The Florence Avenue Elementary School garden initiative is funded by the ShapingNJ program of New Jersey Department of Health.

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