Orange & Rockland has awarded Ramapo College a $25,000 grant earmarked for the College’s Mobile Food Lab and its related STEM activities.

“Bringing STEM hands-on activities about nutrition and food science to schools will prepare the next generation of students to be critical thinkers and innovators,” said Dr. Angela Cristini, Ramapo College Professor of Biology and Vice President of Institutional Advancement. She also serves as Executive Director of the Ramapo College Foundation.

Ramapo’s Mobile Food Lab (MFL) is a multi-sensory educational experience on wheels that is the centerpiece of a project dedicated to improving student understanding of experimental science, human physiology, plant science and the chemistry and biology that are the basis of nutrition.

The MFL is a retrofitted bus that brings the “field trip” to schools, allowing students to take part in STEM activities without travelling. The MFL staff develops STEM curriculum activities for students in the K-8 educational environment focused on discovery through hands-on learning.

The MFL project, which began during the 2016-2017 school year, has been overwhelmingly well-received by students and teachers throughout New Jersey.

“All of the Food Lab’s activities are mapped to the Next Generation Science Standards, which are used throughout the U.S. to set STEM curriculum and assess student progress,” Cristini explained. From 2018 to 2020, the MFL team provided programming to 3,780 students and members of the community.

The Mobile Food Lab was purchased and retrofitted through a grant from the REED Foundation for Autism.  Adults with autism work on the MFL preparing it for field trips.

The first grant from Orange & Rockland, received in 2019, allowed the Mobile Food Lab to provide programming to 434 students in Mahwah, Oakland, and Ramsey. Allendale was rescheduled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current project will continue MFL programming in Allendale, Mahwah, Oakland, and Ramsey, and will add the districts of Ringwood, Demarest, Cresskill and Closter in the 2021-2022 school year. All are communities served by Orange & Rockland.