Posted: Thursday, February 2nd 2012 at 8:35pm
Wauka Mt. one of three Georgia schools in pilot lunch program
By Marc Eggers Staff
CLERMONT - Georgia Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black stood before a crowded cafeteria at Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy Thursday evening and informed parents, students and faculty members that locally grown produce and farm products were headed their way as a vital part of future school lunches.
Promising to “give them the tools to be successful and then get out of the way,” Black kicked off the joint venture between the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture.
“Through this partnership we hope to truly bridge any gaps that may exist from the farm to the cafeteria, bringing together communities as we create a sustainable farm-to-school program in Georgia,” added Black.
Selected as one of only three schools across the state for the pilot program known as “Feed My School For a Week”, Wauka Mountain Principal Dr. Jo Dinnan said the students were excited.
“We already have a horticulture program and our children are involved in it every day,” Dinnan said. “We have a green house with raised beds; right now they are working on compost. They are really interested in this.”
Hall County School Superintendent Will Schofield echoed Dinnan’s words.
“Being an old farm boy, I’m extremely excited about the possibility of pushing the Georgia-grown ‘Feed My School For a Week’ program here at Wauka Mountain Elementary,” Schofield said. Schofield later went on to explain that he was a seventh generation dairy man.
Melanie Hollingsworth, Nutritional Director and Outreach Specialist for the DOA, said that during the second week of May their target was to provide “75 to 100 percent of Georgia-grown products on that plate for an entire week during lunchtime.”
“This is the perfect school. If we can’t do it here, if we can’t promote a farm-to-school program with the community support you have here…then we can’t do it anywhere,” Hollingsworth said.
Noting the challenges facing such an effort and all the checks and balances needed to insure a safe and successful program, Hollingsworth said, “If it is that difficult to get Georgia produce in the schools then something needs to be done about it.”
Fifth grade student Evan Dover said his family has a farm and he enjoys his family’s garden. Asked what local items he would like to see as part of future school lunches, Evan said, “I especially love the corn on the cob we grow here.”
“You may think I’m crazy, but we’re going to make it happen and it is happening,” Director Hollingsworth added with determined confidence.
The lunch program commences May 7th.
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