COVINGTON, Ga. - For the fifth consecutive year, Newton County School System has earned a Golden Radish Award, a prestigious state-wide farm to school distinction which acknowledges the outstanding leadership of school representatives building comprehensive farm to school programs.
Eighty-four school districts, serving more than 1.3 million students in Georgia, are now participating in farm to school. These districts served more than 109 million school meals with local food items during the 2017-18 school year. 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.
NCSS was among those school systems recognized at a special ceremony on Monday, October 22, at the Freight Depot in Atlanta, for the district’s efforts to educate students on nutrition and agriculture. The Golden Radish Award publicly recognizes school districts for all aspects of farm to school, from local food procurement to hosting taste tests to gardening with students, and is awarded at Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorary Levels. Districts were evaluated on their work in ten different activities of farm to school.
NCSS was recognized at the Gold level for several accomplishments during the 2017-2018 school year, including:
• Students interacted with local farmers 53 times, including through field trips to Berry’s Farm and Mitcham Farms and farmers from Burge Organic Farm visiting Mansfield Elementary.
• Students at 17 schools participated in activities in school-based edible gardens.
• Students participated in more than 194 hands-on cooking and food activities.
Parents assisted teachers in activities such as learning about the different plant parts and getting to taste examples of stems, roots, flowers, leaves, and fruits.
“Our school system’s involvement with the farm to school movement goes beyond serving locally grown fruits and vegetables, which we are proudly doing on a regular basis,” Jan Loomans, NCSS director of school nutrition, said. “We also have a strong relationship with our local Farm Bureau to help ensure that students make the connection between nutritious foods in the cafeteria, healthy bodies, and a sustainable environment.”
“Congratulations to our school nutrition team,” NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said. “I am proud of their hard work and effort to ensure our students enjoy locally grown fruits and vegetables while learning the importance of healthy food options.”
“At the Georgia Department of Education we’re focused on expanding opportunities for Georgia’s kids, and farm to school is a perfect example of that,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “When students have access to fresh, local foods they’re better prepared to learn – and they can connect with Georgia agriculture, one of our state’s largest industries.”