Sumter County Schools honored for excellence again

Published 11:23 am Thursday, October 25, 2018

ATLANTA — Sumter County Schools won platinum level recognition at the 2018 Golden Radish Awards held at the Georgia Freight Depot Monday. The Golden Radish Award publicly recognizes Georgia school districts for best practices in farm to school programs, such as local food procurement, exposing students to new foods through taste tests and incorporating gardening and cooking activities in curriculum.
Sumter County Schools received kudos for their work:
• Parents and community members actively participated in the development and implementation of farm to school activities at Sumter. Dignitaries visited campus to speak about the importance of agriculture and farm to school, and local organizations and businesses donated gardening equipment, seeds, and plants.
• Each month, the Gifted Program at Furlow Charter School attended cooking demonstrations that featured a fruit or vegetable of the month. Afterwards, scholars held their own competitions where they prepared dishes with the featured fruits and vegetables.
•Teachers incorporated farm to school activities across curriculum areas throughout the year. Students utilized mathematical skills in measuring garden spaces, like calculating fertilizer requirements and charting the growth of their plants. In science, students learned about plant and animal growth cycles, climate, and how weather affects plant and growth and types of soil.
Sumter County Schools was one of 84 Georgia School Districts recognized at the awards. Collectively, these districts served more than 1.3 million students a whopping 109 million school meals with locally grown food items during the 2017-18 school year!
This year, the Golden Radish partners (Georgia Organics, Georgia’s Departments of Agriculture (GDA), Education (GaDOE) and Public Health (GDPH), the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension (UGA Extension) awarded 17 new school districts and inaugurated five new Farm to School Innovation awards.
“School gardens introduce new generations to the world of agriculture. They build a broader understanding of where our food comes from and what it takes to get it to the table, and they prepare future farmers to produce food innovatively, in ways that maximize resources and nurture our environment,” said Associate Dean for UGA Extension at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Laura Perry Johnson.
“At the Georgia Department of Education, we’re focused on expanding opportunities for Georgia’s kids, and farm to school is a perfect example of that,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “When students have access to fresh, local foods they’re better prepared to learn – and they can connect with Georgia agriculture, one of our state’s largest industries.”
“Feed My School For a Week, Georgia Grown Test Kitchen and the Golden Radish Awards are all great examples of success thanks to the strong partnership that has been cultivated between our Georgia producers and our school nutrition directors. We are proud of the accomplishments of Georgia’s farm to school efforts and excited to see what current and future award winners will further achieve as we work toward our 2020 Vision for School Nutrition in Georgia.” — Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black
“Farm to school teaches our children the importance of food that helps bodies grow healthy and strong and food that promotes learning,” said J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “When children learn as early as possible where their food comes from, they are more likely to eat fresh, nutritious foods that will sustain healthy choices that spread to families and communities.”
“Georgia Organics is delighted to recognize the innovative Farm to School initiatives that prepare our future farmers for economic prosperity. We are proudly celebrating certified organic food procurement, the teaching of organic growing methods and the involvement of Certified Organic farmers in programs throughout the state. We know that Farm to School and organic education is a great way to increase access to good food for all,” said Alice Rolls, president and CEO of Georgia Organics.

“We believe that Farm to Early Care and Education activities are a key component of high quality education and care programs. As we work with our partners to create more support for these activities, we are thrilled to congratulate the 53 districts who have included over 23,352 preschool students in their farm to school initiatives and to showcase Bleckley County School District’s exemplary Farm to Early Care in Education program,” said Commissioner Amy Jacobs, Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.
The 2017-18 school year was a record breaking year of farm to school growth in Georgia, and all participants were thrilled to celebrate at the Golden Radish Awards. Eighty-four school systems were recognized. Sumter County Schools was awarded in the platinum division.