System earns farm to school recognition

Published 7:18 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Decatur County School System was honored Monday for its farm to school program achievements with the Golden Radish Award.
The award is a statewide farm to school distinction that acknowledges outstanding leadership of school representatives building comprehensive farm to school programs.
Farm to school programs encourage partnerships with local farms to serve healthy meals in cafeterias, offer food and gardening education and promote student health.
The school district was one of 30 honored at the state capitol for this extraordinary work by State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge, Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, and Georgia Organics Board Chair Mandy Mahoney.
“When children are offered fresh, locally sourced foods, they are more prepared for learning today, and more likely to continue healthy habits tomorrow,” said Dr. Barge. “At the same time, their school is supporting local agriculture, which has been and will continue to be an anchor of Georgia’s economy. It’s a positive thing from so many angles.”
Decatur County Schools was recognized at the Honorary level for their accomplishments during the last school year, which include:
Locally grown food items were featured in school meals 21 times. The Decatur County School Nutrition Program worked with the local produce vendor to determine when produce was in season that then replaced the frozen items on the menu.
The district has six schools with their own edible gardens, each with a specific focus such as Hutto Middle School’s greens garden.
Teachers at both Hutto Middle School and Bainbridge Middle School incorporated farm to school into their curriculum by combining STEM projects with ideas for local agricultural businesses.
“With these great farm to school programs, including our Feed My School for a Week program, students discover the role agriculture plays in their daily lives,” said Commissioner Black. “These programs not only provide children more healthy alternatives and promote local producers, but also bring communities together for a great cause.”
School districts across Georgia are using farm to school programs to teach core curriculum, support their local economies, fight obesity and other preventable, food-related diseases, and increase the amount of local food they serve to their students.
The 2014 Golden Radish Award recognizes school districts for all aspects of farm to school during the 2013-2014 school year—from local food procurement to hosting taste tests to gardening with students—and is awarded at Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorary Levels to districts with varying levels of farm to school programs.
The award publicly recognizes and honors school districts for their hard work in the variety of farm to school programs they offer students. Districts were evaluated on their work in 10 different activities of farm to school.