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Grantee Blog 2020

Back in Session

At Alexander Batcho Intermediate School (ABIS), classes resumed on Tuesday, September 8th. While most students began the year with entirely virtual learning, the school’s two special education classrooms have been meeting in-person and their plan is to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Since the start of 2020, the Healthier Somerset team has been coordinating the school garden and CATCH program specifically with these two special education classrooms. The team had several contingency plans, but was excited to finally move forward once schools started for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Due to COVID-19, an outdoor school garden was not an option this year at ABIS, so all students and teachers have received their own AeroGardens; even the students who had opted for virtual learning will be participating with their garden at home. Students had their first virtual class with Sigrid Solis from Rutgers Cooperative Extension on Tuesday, September 21st. Even though most of the students are in the classroom, these sessions will continue to be held virtually so that every student, including those at home, is able to participate and be fully engaged throughout the gardening process.  During this introductory class, they discussed nutrition and their upcoming plans for their gardens. They will be meeting once a week and their next session will be dedicated to talking about what plants need to grow and setting up the AeoGardens.

Additionally, NJ SNAP-Ed is currently working with both teachers to purchase the CATCH software and equipment that would best fit the needs of their students. SNAP-Ed’s virtual training is ready to go and the ABIS teachers will be trained by the end of October.  Following this training, they will have the equipment and knowledge needed to successfully implement CATCH in their classrooms.

Despite setbacks from COVID earlier in the year, the Healthier Somerset team has ABIS on track to support its students maintaining healthy lifestyles through school gardens and CATCH programming.

About the Grantee

Somerset Health Care Foundation

Healthier Somerset is a coalition created to improve the health and well-being of those who live and work in Somerset County. We promote healthy lifestyles through collaboration among 50 partner organizations representing thousands of Somerset County residents, businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations, public health officials, healthcare providers, government, and faith-based organizations.