ATLANTA – The Fulton County School System was one of only 25 school systems in the state to be awarded the “Golden Radish” for its commitment to serving locally grown foods in its school cafeterias over the past two years.
Launched in October 2012, Georgia Organics and its partners launched the Five Million Meals Challenge, a statewide effort to get five million meals made with locally grown food served in K-12 cafeterias across Georgia. The program is an offshoot of an initiative that began in 2011 with Farm to School advocates who oversaw the serving of three million meals in more than 650 schools, featuring locally produced food.
The goal of the program is to teach children where their food comes from, why that matters and inspire them to eat more fruits and vegetables, said state officials.
Fulton Schools was a charter participant in the program, said Alyssia Wright, executive director of school nutrition. She pledged the district’s support to increase the amount of local food served to students through Farm to School, a program that connects schools and local farms.
“Fulton County Schools is pleased to be a model of how to successfully implement a Farm to School program,” said Wright. “This initiative helps our cafeterias serve healthy meals and improve student nutrition, while also supporting the local economy and farmers.”
School gardens are one very visible aspect of the Farm to School program. The program also involves chefs from the community conducting taste tests with students, and farmers hosting farm tours or making guest appearances on days when their food will be featured in the cafeteria.
Fulton, along with the other 24 school systems that received the Golden Radish award, was honored by State School Superintendent John Barge and Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black during a ceremony on March 5 at the state Capitol. The school districts also were honored with resolutions in the state Senate and House of Representatives.
“Children learn better when their bodies and minds are fueled by nutritional meals,” said Barge. “It also helps us expose children to science through agriculture. We must teach our children about an industry that is so critical to Georgia’s economy in order to inspire the next generation of farmers and agricultural scientists.”
Other metro systems to receive the Golden Radish include Atlanta Public Schools, City Schools of Decatur, Cobb County Schools and Marietta City Schools.