The Bibb County school district has been recognized for its efforts to provide healthier meals through a “farm-to-school” nutrition initiative.
The 2015 Golden Radish Award is given to school districts with varying levels of farm-to-school programs, which help connect communities with fresh, healthy food and local food producers. Bibb took home the gold.
“Eating fresh, locally sourced food at school is great for our students,” Richard Woods, Georgia’s school superintendent, said in a release. “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.”
The school districts were also recognized by Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald and Georgia Organics board chairwoman Mandy Mahoney.
Collectively, the 39 school systems recognized:
Held 4,352 taste tests of fresh, local food with students.
Taught more than 1,800 garden, food and nutrition lessons to students.
Tended 328 edible school gardens.
Hosted 725 hands-on cooking activities with students.
Incorporated farm-to-school initiatives into 182 staff professional development opportunities.
Championed and sustained districtwide policies or procedures into 19 school districts.
The access to locally grown food is important, Fitzgerald said, because it teaches children about healthy eating habits at a critical age, which will help lead to healthy eating habits as adults.
Three in 10 Georgia adults are obese, a rate that ranks the state 19th in the nation, according to a report last month from Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It was about 10.1 percent in 1990.
The report, however, did cite improvements in young Georgians, in part to serving healthier food in schools.
“It is incredible to see the growth of farm-to-school programs in the last few years,” Mahoney said. “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.”
To contact writer David Schick, call 744-4382 or find him on Twitter@davidcschick.