EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - A partnership between the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools and Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy has resulted in culinary students working in the hospital kitchen and others volunteering at the hospital.

“It’s a great partnership,” Perth Amboy Tech Principal Robert Fuller said. “Any time we can help out in the community and build these bonds, we will help out any way we can.”

Chef Stephen Moir, the school’s culinary instructor, said the collaboration began with an offer from the hospital to donate excess produce from their “learning garden” to the culinary program at the school. The garden is part of a community nutrition program initiated by the hospital. Since that initial overture, three culinary students have gone to work in the hospital kitchen and some other students have begun volunteering.

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“It’s a nice way to work together,” Moir said. “It’s a nice start. We also spoke about getting our kids’ hands dirty and doing some planting.”

Perth Amboy Tech’s carpentry program, led by instructor Edward White, will build above-ground containers for the spring planting at the medical center.

Dr. Nina Regevik, medical director of the medical center’s Division of Integrated Health, said a master gardener from Rutgers University’s Cooperative Extension Program has assisted the gardening effort, which has produced kale, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes and collards, as well as marjoram and other herbs.

“We had a desire to bring improved nutrition to the community,” Regevik said.

“It’s been a wonderful learning opportunity for our students,” said MCVTS Superintendent of Schools Dianne D. Veilleux.

MCVTS administrators said they hope to expand the partnership to include the East Brunswick and Piscataway campuses and the medical center’s site in Old Bridge.

“We also want to develop avenues to include our health-care programs,” said Sean McDonald, MCVTS director of career and technical education. “That’s the next place to grow.”

The collaboration was celebrated Nov. 30 as hospital personnel joined MCVTS administrators and faculty at a luncheon on the Perth Amboy Campus prepared by culinary students. The menu included sesame seared tuna, sous vide free-range chicken breast and seared black sea bass.

Raritan Bay Medical Center is part of the Hackensack Meridian Health system. It includes a 338-bed hospital in Perth Amboy and a 113-bed facility in Old Bridge.

The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has seven schools on five campuses, in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge. More information is available at www.mcvts.net. Like us on Facebook – there’s a link on the home page.