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ATLANTA, GA, October 7, 2015

39 Georgia School Districts Honored for Farm to School Successes

This school year, White County students have enjoyed delicious watermelon from a farm less than 25 miles away. Across the state in Tift County, the school system has invested in a 15-acre farm to teach students about gardening and food. In Newton, children learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills through hands-on gardening, and in Chatham County, students look forward to “Try It” Tuesdays. These are just a few examples of how over 700,000 students in 39 school districts across Georgia are participating in Farm to School. School district leaders are using these programs to teach standards, support their local economies, fight obesity and other preventable, food-related diseases, and increase the amount of fresh, local food they serve to their students.

And today, State School Superintendent Richard Woods, Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black, Public Health Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., and Georgia Organics Board Chair Mandy Mahoney honored 39 districts with the Golden Radish Award, which is given to school districts in Georgia who are doing extraordinary work in farm to school.

During the 2014-2015 school year, school district leaders collectively:

  • Held 4,352 taste tests of fresh, local food to students
  • Taught nearly 1,809 garden, food and nutrition lessons to students
  • Tended 328 edible school gardens
  • Hosted 725 hands-on cooking activities with students
  • Incorporated farm to school into 182 staff professional development opportunities
  • Championed and sustained district-wide policies or procedures into 19 schools districts

The Golden Radish Award 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.

Richard Woods, Georgia’s School Superintendent states, “Eating fresh, locally sourced food at school is great for our students. When kids are healthy and energized, they’re ready to tackle their academic tasks. Farm to School also provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the role and impact of agriculture – Georgia’s largest industry – in our state.”

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black couldn’t agree more. “Our programs, like Feed My School for a Week and the Georgia Grown Test Kitchen, inspire students to expand their taste buds and connect with the farmers who support the state of Georgia. We are thrilled to participate in the Golden Radish Awards and to assist in creating markets for farmers that also benefit our children’s health and education.”

“Having access to locally grown fruits and vegetables is so important for teaching children healthy eating habits now,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Poor nutrition can cause health problems, overweight and obesity, and inhibit healthy brain development, including the ability to acquire language and literacy. The habits children pick up at this age will lead to healthy physical, emotional and intellectual outcomes that they will carry into adolescence and adulthood.”

“It is incredible to see the growth of farm to school programs in the last few years,” stated Mandy Mahoney, Georgia Organics Board Chair.  “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 school and agricultural leaders invest in these programs and in our children.”

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.

The 39 school systems being recognized are:

Gold Level
Atlanta Public Schools
Bibb County School District
Bleckley County School District
Burke County Public School System
Carrollton City Schools
City Schools of Decatur
Clarke County School District
Commerce City Schools
Habersham County Schools
Jackson County School System
Laurens County Schools
Tift County Schools

Silver Level
Decatur County Schools
Dougherty County School System
Fulton County Schools
Savannah-Chatham County Public School System

Bronze Level
Barrow County School System
Bartow County School District
Cobb County School District
Evans County Schools
Fannin County School System
Fayette County Public Schools
Forsyth County Schools
Gwinnett County Public Schools
Madison County School District
Newton County Schools
Rabun County Schools
White County Schools

Honorary Level
Crisp County School System
Effingham County Schools
Elbert County School District
Gainesville City School System
Grady County Schools
Lamar County Schools
Marietta City Schools
Sumter County Schools
Treutlen County Schools
Walton County School District
Worth County Schools

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Media Contacts
Matt Cardoza
Georgia Department of Education
MCardoza@doe.k12.ga.us

Julie McPeake
Georgia Department of Agriculture
Julie.mcpeake@agr.georgia.gov

Nancy Nydam
Department of Public Health
Nancy.Nydam@dph.ga.gov

James Carr
james@georgiaorganics.org,
(404) 481-5017