By: Follow South Jersey Staff
CAMDEN, N.J. — Students in Camden will be getting tastier lunches and lessons as Campbell Soup Company announces the launch of Full Futures, a program to foster a school nutrition environment that ensures all students are well-nourished and ready to thrive at school and in life.
Campbell plans to invest $5 million over the next five years and is joined by a number of non-profit and corporate partners.
“The food students eat at school has a dramatic impact on their ability to learn and impacts their wellbeing today and well into the future,” said Mark Clouse, Campbell’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe the Full Futures partnership will provide students the opportunity to not only succeed in school but help them reach their full potential.”
Full Futures will reach approximately 2,000 students enrolled in three pilot schools—Dr. Henry H. Davis Family School, Morgan Village Middle School and Camden High School—with direct programming such as nutrition education, school gardens, taste tests, and menu expansions. An additional 5,000 Camden students will see enhancements through district-wide nutrition policy and menu changes.
Schools play a vital role in providing daily nutrition to children. According to studies, children consume more than a third of their daily calories at school, and there is an association between healthy dietary behaviors and academic performance. Further, students with higher grades are more likely to eat breakfast every day, eat fruits or drink 100% fruit juice and eat vegetables at least once per day, while avoiding soda, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Campbell saw these facts as a meaningful opportunity to make an impact and by leveraging the broad range of expertise and resources of local and national partners, Full Futures can advance developments in school nutrition programming and infrastructure.
“We are very grateful for the partnership between the District and Campbell,” Superintendent of Camden Schools Katrina T. McCombs said. “I understand first-hand the power of a well-balanced meal. The Full Futures partnership will give our students the extra push to focus on their academic performance.”
Full Futures will focus on four key pillars:
- Building the school nutrition mindset: Making access to nutritious school food a top priority for the school district, embraced through district-wide wellness policies and expanded school meal programs that provide food for students 365 days a year.
- Improving food service infrastructure: Ensuring food service staff and other key stakeholders have the equipment, training and resources needed to execute successful and nutritious school meal programs.
- Providing nutrition education: Expanding the reach and impact of nutrition and culinary education in a variety of school settings and audiences to support nutritious food choices at school, awareness and interest in nutritious food.
- Enhancing procurement and implementing menu change: Supporting districts in procuring nutritious, locally sourced ingredients and supporting menus that are student-centered and culturally inclusive.
- Campbell is the co-creator and primary funder of Full Futures, with FoodCor ps providing coordinating support for the initiative and developing a blueprint that will compile the lessons learned from Camden to establish a customizable model for other districts, funders and nonprofits to adopt.
“There has never been a better time to invest in the local vision for nourishing children,” said Curt Ellis, Co-Founder and CEO of FoodCorps. “Together, with local partners and the support of Campbell, we are thrilled to be a part of taking a holistic approach to supporting school nutrition in Camden through the Full Futures initiative.”
Core partners in this effort include the Camden City School District, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, The Common Market, Food Bank of South Jersey, FoodCorps, National Farm to School Network, Wellness in the Schools, Aramark and New Jersey American Water. These organizations, several of whom have been long standing partners, will support nutrition education and training for students and staff, procurement of fresh, local foods and measurement for the program. Youth Advisory Councils comprised of middle- and high-school students will also be key to the success of the program, ensuring student needs, tastes and preferences are considered and incorporated.
“Proper nutrition is an essential component to a successful school day for every student,” said Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen. “Access to quality food and an emphasis on nutrition education is a challenge in urban areas and in communities of color. I am delighted to see Campbell, with more than 150 years in the Camden community, helping to bridge the gap between access to nutritious food and academic performance. Full Futures will help to overhaul school nutrition while bringing positive change for thousands of Camden students.”
This year, Campbell concluded the final year of its Healthy Communities program, a 10-year, $10-million effort to improve the health of young people in Camden. The program created the largest city-wide network of healthy corner stores in the state, launched a citywide after-school sports program, and enhanced healthy food options and nutrition education.
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