Grantee Blog 2020

New Year, Continued Growth

In 2020, Healthier Somerset brought indoor school gardens and the CATCH program to Alexander Batcho Intermediate School (ABIS) in Manville, NJ despite a pandemic. The remarkable success of these programs was seen by students, teachers, administration and community members. It is because of this success that this initiative was noticed by other districts as well. As 2021 begins, Healthier Somerset will not only continue this work at ABIS, but also introduce school gardens to Smalley School in Bound Brook as a way to expand this program’s benefits in the county.

Staff from Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) and SNAP-Ed at Zufall Health will support ABIS and Smalley School in the growth of school gardens. Both schools will be engaging their Special Education classrooms to provide these students with meaningful, practical life skills. AeroGardens will continue to be the growing source as COVID restrictions remains in place. However, should the current climate improve in the spring, there have been exploratory conversations regarding expanding to outdoor gardens. As a bonus to the gardens, students at both schools will also receive nutrition education and cooking demos from RCE and SNAP-Ed.

This year, the CATCH program will finally launch at ABIS after being put on hold due to COVID-19. SNAP-Ed instructors trained the two Special Education teachers at ABIS on CATCH in December 2020. Now that all the equipment is in and the teachers are trained, CATCH will be used as a way to increase physical activity for the students in these two classrooms. Once, this pilot has been successfully completed, there will be discussions around expanding this program as well.

We hope that as this project continues to grow, more students will be engaged, their excitement will be brought home and families will makes healthier decisions. Momentum is growing and Somerset County is becoming a healthier community one classroom at a time.

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.