SPRING LAKE HEIGHTS — Thomas Arnone, Monmouth County Commissioner Director, visited SLH Elementary School on Wednesday to announce that the SUSHI [Suburban Urban School Healthy Initiative] will return to various schools in Monmouth County.
Mr. Arnone created SUSHI five years ago with the Colts Neck and Asbury Park school districts, with Neptune City and Spring Lake Heights joining in 2019.
The goal of the program is to pair urban and suburban schools together in after school educational programs hosted at Allaire Community Farm in Wall Township.
“You are teaching healthy eating and organic gardening practices to students from different socio-economic backgrounds that wouldn’t normally interact with each other. It really brings down social barriers that are put up by virtue of your zip code. What are the chances that Asbury Park and Colts Neck students to come together and become friends through healthy eating and farming?,” said Joann Burney, co-founder of the Allaire Community Farm.
Through the club, students work with a partner from either an urban or suburban neighborhood and learn hydroponics and aquaponics from Allaire Community Farm volunteers.
According to Mrs. Burney, the program culminates in a final trip at the end of the school year where the suburban students visit the urban students to help construct a community farm.
“It was something truly special to witness students show such excitement to pick their own tomatoes and create salads to eat with their peers. It is my hope these students take their excitement home with them and continue a healthy lifestyle outside of the club,” said Mr. Arnone.
Mr. Arnone also announced that more school districts will implement SUSHI as after school clubs, stating, “I look forward to expanding the program to include fourth-grade students from the Bradley Beach, and Wall Township school districts this year.”
The program now includes fourth-grade students from Colts Neck, Neptune City, Spring Lake Heights, West Belmar, and Bradley Beach.
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