State Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black announced today that the Department (GDA) is now accepting new applications for school districts interested in participating in this year’s “Feed My School for a Week” program in Georgia.
The new 2012-2013 Feed My School program builds upon the pilot program that kicked off last year, featuring three Georgia schools in Bleckley, Hall and Colquitt counties. The program was initiated through a partnership between the GDA and the Georgia Department of Education.
Feed My School first launched last year with a goal to help bridge the gap in the nutritional value and quality of food served in Georgia schools, while providing more farm to cafeteria opportunities. The end result will be healthier Georgia students, decreased barriers in farm to school efforts and increased awareness as students learn and experience, both educationally and nutritionally, where their food comes from.
“After last year’s success, we wanted to further expand the program. Not only does it allow students to learn about where their food comes from, but also how it is grown here in Georgia and how it makes its way to the final destination in a school cafeteria,” Commissioner Black said. “It is about offering fresh, healthy foods that are locally produced while raising awareness about nutrition.”
“Children learn better when their bodies and minds are fueled by nutritional meals. This program helps create a better school environment so that students can reach new heights academically,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “It also helps us expose children to science through agriculture."
During the 2011-2012 school year, more than 1,600 students from Bleckley County Elementary, Wauka Mountain Elementary (Hall County) and Norman Park Elementary (Colquitt County) schools were directly involved. During each county’s week-long program, more than 7,500 school lunches were served with 34 school gardens involved, 700 students went on farm field trips and agriculture literature was distributed to school classrooms and libraries.
In addition to new school systems participating in the program this year, the GDA plans to continue working with first year participants for the next three years. During this time, last year’s participating counties will continue building their farm-to-school approaches, illustrating sustainable farm to cafeteria efforts while continuing to identify needs and best practices. Bleckley, Hall and Colquitt county school systems are planning to all participate in “National Farm to School Month” in October and starting in the spring, will once again highlight Georgia Grown products both in the classroom and cafeteria.
Applications were released today and will be due on October 19, 2012. If you are interested in nominating your school for the program, please have your nutritional director contact Melanie Harris at Melanie.Harris@agr.georgia.gov. To learn more about the program, please visit www.agr.georgia.gov/feed-my-school-for-a-week.aspx.