Georgia Department of Agriculture

39 Million Local Meals Served at 53 School Districts Across the State

39 Million Local Meals Served at 53 School Districts Across the State

ATLANTA, October 24, 2016 -- Georgia Departments of Agriculture, Public Health, Education and Georgia Organics came together under the prestigious Gold Dome for the annual Golden Radish Awards to celebrate incredible gains made in the farm to school movement. 53 school districts nearly one-third of all public school district in Georgia and reaching over 1 million students -- ”are now participating in farm to school programs and recognized through the Golden Radish Awards.
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 Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorary Levels.  Districts were evaluated on their work in ten different activities of farm to school.
Some of that extraordinary work includes Dougherty County School System training students to harvest, wash, and prep product from their teaching gardens for taste tests and to serve in the cafeteria, Elbert County School District featuring local strawberries on the lunch line from a farm 20 miles away, and Dade County Schools utilizing experiential nutrition and garden-based education to teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) standards.  
“It is incredible to see the growth of farm to school programs in the last few years,” stated Alice Rolls, Georgia Organics Executive Director.  “Every day, children across our state are getting the opportunity to grow and taste Georgia food in school. I’m excited to see Georgia’s schools invest in Georgia farmers and in our children at the same time.”

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.

“Our ultimate goal here at the department is for communities to take ownership of their school cafeterias, similarly to how we all push for excellence in the classroom, the arts and athletics,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. “We are proud to have so many Georgia Grown Feed My School participants recognized here today and are excited as to what current and future Golden Radish Award winners will accomplish as we work toward our 2020 Vision for School Nutrition in Georgia.”

State Superintendent Richard Woods agreed with Commissioner Black, emphasizing the benefits of connecting education to Georgia’s largest industry.  “Having access to fresh, farm to school meals is great for Georgia’s students,” said Woods. “Farm to school programs also connect students with agriculture, which is an enormously important industry for our state. We appreciate the Golden Radish Award because it recognizes those school districts that are striving every day to provide more farm to school meals.”

To top it off, Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, noted the combined educational and long-term health benefits of farm to school.  “Farm to school teaches our children the importance of food that helps bodies grow healthy and strong and food that promotes learning,” said Fitzgerald. “When children learn as early as possible where their food comes from, they are more likely to eat fresh, nutritious foods that will sustain healthy choices that spread to families and communities.”
During the 2015-2016 school year, school districts collectively:

  • Served 39 million school meals that included local food
  • Held 8,246 taste tests of fresh, local food to students
  • Taught 3,406 garden, food and nutrition lessons to students
  • Tended 575 edible school gardens
  • Hosted 1,935 hands-on cooking activities with students
  • Incorporated farm to school into 390 staff professional development opportunities
  • Championed and sustained district-wide policies or procedures into 29 schools districts

Needless to say, the 2015-16 school year was a banner year for farm to school in Georgia, and all participants were thrilled to celebrate at the Golden Radish Awards.
The 53 school systems being recognized are:
Gold Level
Atlanta Public Schools
Barrow County School System
Bibb County School District
Bleckley County School District
Burke County Public School System
Carrollton City Schools
Cherokee County School District
City Schools of Decatur
Clarke County School District
Dougherty County School System
Elbert County School District
Fannin County School System
Fulton County Schools
Gwinnett County Public Schools
Habersham County Schools
Jackson County Schools
Laurens County Schools
Sumter County Schools
Tift County Schools

Silver Level
Bartow County School System
Cobb County School District
Effingham County Schools
Fayette County Public Schools
Forsyth County Schools
Hart County Schools
Newton County Schools
Rabun County Schools
Savannah-Chatham County Public School System
Treutlen County Schools

Bronze Level
Brantley County School District
Commerce City Schools
Dade County Schools
DeKalb County School District
Gainesville City School System
Madison County School District
Marietta City Schools
Paulding County School District
Toombs County Schools
Warren County Public Schools

Honorary Level
Buford City Schools
Cartersville City School District
Coffee County School System
Columbia County School District
Crisp County School System
Dalton Public Schools
Franklin County Schools
Hall County Schools
Henry County Schools
Lee County School District
Morgan County Charter School System
Muscogee County School District
Ware County Schools
Worth County Schools


Matt Cardoza, Director of Communications, Georgia Department of Education,
Julie McPeake, Chief Communications Officer, Georgia Department of Agriculture,
Nancy Nydam, Director of Communications, Department of Public Health,
James Carr, Communication Coordinator, Georgia Organics,,

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