• Comment

School district among those recognized in state for farm to school initiatives

Posted: November 15, 2017 - 2:58am

The Columbia County School district was recently awarded A Golden Radish Award for its farm to school food programs by the Georgia Departments of Agriculture, Education and Public Health and other organizations.

The district was recognized at the Gold Level for their accomplishments during the 2016-17 school year, according to a news release from Georgia Organics.

"Seventy-five school districts, serving more than one million students in Georgia, are now participating in farm to school," the news release stated. "These districts served more than 97 million school meals with local food items during the 2016-17 school year."

The district earned the award by featuring at least one Georgia Grown item daily for breakfast and lunch, as well as the school menu including a Georgia Grown section that highlighted local items.

In addition, students went on field trips to Steed's Dairy to learn about milk production, Guroski's Strawberry Farm to learn about fruit production and Sunny Day Farm to research honeybees and pollination, pumpkin, and animal husbandry, the release stated.

Also, all principals and school nutrition managers attended training on implementing the farm-to-school nutrition education components of the updated District Wellness policy. Principals then shared the training with school staff.

The Golden Radish Award publicly recognizes school districts for all aspects of farm to school, from local food procurement to hosting taste tests and gardening with students.

This year, the Golden Radish partners awarded 26 new school districts and welcomed a new partner-UGA Extension.

"UGA Extension is so excited to promote healthy eating habits and incorporate Georgia's great agricultural food products into our school lunchrooms," said Associate Dean for UGA Extension at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Laura Perry Johnson. "This is a natural partnership that benefits us as well as the school kids who get to enjoy these tasty and nutritious products."

Districts of all sizes are utilizing farm-to-school programs to teach academic standards in school gardens, support the local economy through local food purchases for school meals, and fight childhood obesity and other preventable food-related diseases.

"Access to fresh, locally grown food is not just important for students' physical health - it's part of their academic development as well," said State Superintendent Richard Woods. "When children eat fresh, healthy meals, they have the fuel they need for a successful day of learning."

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black notes that while farm-to-school efforts support academic achievement, they also help build a strong agricultural economy.

"Feed My School For a Week, Georgia Grown Test Kitchen and the Golden Radish Awards are all great ways for school nutrition to support Georgia producers, and we are excited as to what current and future award winners will accomplish as we work toward our 2020 Vision for School Nutrition in Georgia."

Georgia Organics founded the state's first farm-to-school program in 2007. Since then, communities across the state have embraced the benefits of bringing students and fresh, local food closer together.

 

By the numbers

The 2016-17 school year was a record-breaking year of farm-to-school growth in Georgia. The Golden Radish school districts collectively:

Served over 97 million meals that featured locally grown and raised foods

Conducted 8,204 taste tests

Taught 7,263 standards-based lessons

Tended 885 school gardens

Engaged students in 3,794 hands-on cooking activities

Involved parents and community members in 1,339 farm-to-school activities

Source: Georgia Organics

 

  • Comment