Georgia Organics’ history in Athens runs deep. Athens’ Good Food Movement, composed of growers, school nutrition leaders, community food advocates, and eaters, is especially strong.
Next year, Georgia Organics is hosting the 2020 Conference & Expo in Athens where we’ll be highlighting the expansion of the counties’ farm to school programming.
The first Georgia Organics Conference was held in Athens in 2015 and the first Golden Radish Awards ceremony, which took place just one year before, awarded Athens-Clarke County School District the first Outstanding District Award and Gold level distinction. Barrow County was recognized at the honorary level at that ceremony.
Six year later, both districts are Platinum level Golden Radish Award recipients and have become active pillars in Georgia Organics’ Farm to School Program and in Georgia’s greater Farm to School community.
Barrow County School Nutrition Director Pamela LeFrois started the county’s farm to school program in 2014 and hired School Nutrition Coordinator, Nicole Trunk to lead the program. The ladies learned more about farm to school from Georgia Organics and participating in the Golden Radish Awards program. They’ve since, passionately grown the program to encompass school gardening, regular cafeteria taste tests, and strong relationships between local farms and district schools.
“You know, kids don’t even know that tomatoes make ketchup,” said LeFrois. “The older generation, which I’ll include myself in, had to help with gardens at home, and help with canning, but kids now don’t know. My kids who are 29 and 34, they don’t have no idea where food comes from”.
“I’m with Pam, but my big thing is teaching the kids where it comes from,” said Trunk. “That it all doesn’t come through the drive thru”.
[Quotes from “It’s Not All from the Drive Through: Farm to School in Barrow County School Nutrition” written in 2016 by Molly Canfield and Published in the Northeast Georgia Farm to School]
LeFrois and Truck’s motivation comes from wanting to “help the local farmer and educate the kids about how food is grown.”
Check out School Nutrition Director Pamela LeFrois and Coordinator Nicole Trunk speaking about the Barrow County School Nutrition Program in 2016.
Like Barrow, Athens-Clarke County’s school nutrition program is also flourishing. In 2018, Clarke County School District received Platinum level distinction and the inaugural “Innovative Community Partnership” award by the Georgia Department of Public Health. This award recognized the district for their extensive partnership and programs with local restaurants, Americorps, UGA “Grow It, Know It” and UGA Extension, local farmers, the local food bank and other community partners.
Last school year, the district spent approximately $578,100.16 to procure Georgia grown and processed products. They also increased their purchases of Georgia Grown work by 87 percent.
Paula Farmer runs Athens-Clarke County’s robust School Nutrition Department. The program participates in a “Harvest of the Month” program, nutritious “Try Day Friday”, and “World School Milk Day”. Additional facts about the program include:
Grow It Know It Program
Both Athens-Clarke and Barrow Counties participate in the Grow It Know It (GIKI) Program. GIKI is an annual program engaging middle school students, school staff at both counties, University of Georgia partners, AmeriCorps VISTAs, and community advocates to address poverty, food insecurity and environmental sustainability. The program facilitates “hands-on educational activities, and workforce-development initiatives. Learn more about GIKI here.
Check out Barrow County at Conference: 2020 Conference Farm to School Field Trip
See firsthand how community support has built Barrow County’s three-time platinum award winning farm to school program. Tour school gardens and the Wimberly Center with the key members who comprise a support network of community and state level farm to school champions. UGA Cooperative Extension, Grow It Know It, UGA Dept of Crop and Soil Sciences, Wimberly’s Roots, Georgia Farm Bureau, Barrow county School Nutrition, and Barrow County School System will showcase their initiatives and answer questions during a lunch time panel discussion. Learn more about the 2020 Conference here.
The 2019 Golden Radish Awards takes place Sept. 17, 2019 at the Mercedes Benz Stadium from 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The 2020 Georgia Organics Conference & Expo is Feb. 7-8, 2020 in Athens.
If you are a journalist interested in covering the event contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register.