By James Malone
Atlanta Public Schools is being honored with the Golden Radish and Golden Carrot awards for bringing more farm fresh options to its school cafeterias.
In recognition of national Healthy School Lunch week, Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods, Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, and Georgia Organics Board Chair Mandy Mahoney acknowledged APS and other school winning districts for their efforts to educate students on nutrition and agriculture.
The district was recognized with the Golden Radish Award, the prestigious statewide farm-to-school distinction, which acknowledges the outstanding leadership of school representatives building comprehensive farm to school programs. This is the district’s third consecutive year receiving the honor. Additionally, APS also was recognized nationally by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine as one of three national school systems to be 2015 Carrot Award runner-up winners.
Atlanta Public Schools was recognized for accomplishments during the last school year, which included student taste tests of fresh fruits or vegetables throughout the year, a number of schools having edible gardens and students across the district being served locally grown food.
“Fresh foods are a key part of the meals we provide to our students. We believe that this is a key part of student success,” says Dr. Marilyn Hughes, director, Nutrition Services, Atlanta Public Schools. “We work with local farmers to provide organically grown fruits and vegetables for our menus. Throughout the year we continually introduce new items to our students to expand their choices and expose them to more foods. Our students need foods that taste good and are good for them. Receiving this type of recognition tells us that we are on the right path.”
The 2015 Golden Radish Award recognizes Georgia school districts for all aspects of farm to school programs during the 2014-2015 school year, from local food procurement to hosting taste tests to gardening with students. The annual awarded is given at the Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorary Levels to districts with varying levels of programs.
Established in 2004, the Golden Carrot Awards, recognize food service teams in both public and private school districts doing exceptional work to improve the healthfulness of school lunches. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine looks for programs that move fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes from being a side entrée to becoming the central meal component. The group believes that this shift in dietary focus is an important step in educating K-12 grade students on the link between diet and health.