For the first time in Summit history, the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) joined Georgia Organics to host the Seventh Georgia Farm to School and Early Care and Education Summit at Helms College in Macon, Ga. On June 7-8. The Summit was presented by the Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition and the Georgia Farm to School Alliance.
- Nearly 300 early care and K-12 educators, farmers, school support staff, and agency partners attended.
- Participants were able to participate in 30 educational and hands-on workshops.
- “Video Welcome Address” from Commissioner of Bright from the Start: DECAL Amy M. Jacobs
- Wande Okunoren-Meadows, Childhood Program Administrator at Little Ones Learning Center and Linette Dodson, newly appointed Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) School Nutrition Director provided compelling keynote speeches.
- The Summit was approved for up to six continuing education credits by the Georgia Professional Development System for Early Childhood Educators and seven Continuing Professional Education United by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
This partnership is especially poignant as the two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year committing to join forces supporting farm to school and farm to early care and education programs in Georgia. DECAL also became a member of the Golden Radish Awards Committee for the first-time last year. They presented the inaugural “Baby Golden Radish Award” to Bleckley County School District last year and will be awarding another school district this year!
“As a trusted voice for early care and education, it is important for Bright from the Start (DECAL) to partner with community organizations such as Georgia Organics in order to continue our mission and goal of providing not only quality education but also access to healthy and nutritious meals to Georgia’s children,” said LaMonika Jones, Procurement and Purchasing Compliance Specialist at DECAL. Partnerships such as the one between Bright from the Start and Georgia Organics further highlights our commitment to raising and developing children not just at their earliest stages but well into adolescence.”
The two organizations have been instrumental in championing Farm to Early Care and Education in the state through the Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition. The Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition is a network that joins stakeholders in early care, food, farming, and nutrition to coalesce resources, support farm to early care and education, and create a dialogue for building statewide programming.
GaDOE, a coalition member, member of the Farm to School Alliance and Golden Radish Awards Committee partner, continues to support early education and farm to school throughout the state. “The Georgia Department of Education” is even more poised to help lead and support the important farm to school and farm to early care and education work happening statewide,” said GaDOE Food and School Specialist Holly Thaw. “The department’s new logo, which ties in nutrition as a core value, symbolizes a renewed commitment to improving child well-being from cafeteria to classroom.”
Summit attendees were challenged to connect and learn with fellow educators and support staff as well as adopt practices to support local farmers in their respective schools and communities. Attendees and speakers expressed the following about their experiences:
The next Farm to School and Early Care and Education Summit will take place in 2021. Additional details will be provided in Spring 2021.