ATLANTA, GA (WALB) - Dougherty County School System was recognized with the 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.
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.
Dougherty County School System was recognized at the Bronze level for their accomplishments during the last school year, which include:
- Locally grown food items were featured in school meals 8 times. Local items included: produce such as cabbage, spinach, collards and herbs like cilantro, rosemary, and oregano.
- The district has created four teaching gardens and reestablished an existing garden. All new gardens consist of seven raised beds built by farm to school leaders, staff, students, and parents.
- Farm to school was incorporated into the curriculum 10 times through classroom lessons for kindergarten through fifth grade.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“Poor nutrition can cause health problems, overweight and obesity,” said Dr. Fitzgerald. “Half or more of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, and farm to school programs have been shown to increase student consumption of these foods. The Georgia Department of Public Health has been a long-time partner and supporter of Georgia's farm to school efforts and we're pleased to see the movement's leaders recognized today.”
“We are so proud of the school district leaders being recognized through the Golden Radish Award,” said Georgia Organics Board Chair Mandy Mahoney. “In reviewing the applications, it's clear that farm to school programs are popping up all over Georgia, and that Georgia school districts are committed to continuing to grow and support thriving 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 ten different activities of farm to school.