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Schools Meet Georgia Organics’ 5M Meal Challenge

Lettuce leaves with white space
Lettuce leaves with white space

In October, Georgia Organics kicked off a campaign to get schools to serve five million meals that included local food products. Twenty-six systems pledged to put at least one locally-sourced item on their menus each meal.An audio version of this story

Georgia Organics’ Erin Croom says it appears the schools have long since reached the target. She says the real goal was to start the conversation about farm-to-table between students, school nutritionists, food suppliers and farmers.

But even she was surprised students liked kale and turnips, saying with a laugh, “One school system did a taste testing around turnips. And they ran out, and the kids were so upset.”

Rockdale County Schools Food Services Director Peggy Lawrence says her students are learning to enjoy new foods. And her staff is learning new skills:  “How to handle a fresh pear or what do we do with a, you know, with a pepper,” said Lawrence. “How do we cut that up” How do we handle it so that when the child gets it, it’s at peak of taste so they’ll try it again” It’s just kind of an education all the way around for all of us.”

Georgia Organics will analyze the campaign data with the University of Georgia, but for now, it’s full steam — or steamed kale – ahead.

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