Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DeKalb Farm to School Stakeholders Meeting

Did you know farm to school programs help kids to eat healthier and support family farms? Did you know healthy kids are smarter kids? Attend the first DeKalb Farm to School meeting, and  find out more about other initiatives in the U.S. and Georgia,  and what it takes to launch a farm to school program.

Participants will learn about local resources and share their own farm to school projects. Challenges, opportunities and first steps for DeKalb County will be explored, and the group will begin planning a strategy for the DeKalb County Farm to School program.   This first meeting will be facilitated by Georgia Organics.

When:  March 23, 2011. 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Why: to review Farm to School opportunities, challenges and next steps for DeKalb County; and to leverage the help and expertise of community volunteers.
Where:  Fernbank Elementary 157 Heaton Park Dr NE Atlanta, GA 30307-1399 (in the cafeteria)
Who: Anybody who is interested in participating in a DeKalb County Farm to School program. Parents, teachers, school nutrition staff, administrators, community members, Master Gardeners, farmers, organizations, government agencies, etc.

RSVP and Questions:   Contact Rosalie Ezekiel at rosalie@eparchitects.com


Anonymous said...

Why is anyone creating a brand new "farm to school" program when the 4-H club and the FFA have already been doing this for years? They have more experience than any home-grown activist with political motives of their own.

Why reinvent the wheel? Why are you not using programs that already exist and are proven to be effective in their educational goals?


Anonymous said...

Anon 11:04, I agree. 4-H and FFA are well organized with strong programs that will keep interested youths engaged for years as well as educate them for what could become a career in agriculture or animal husbandry. Plus, they have affiliations with various university programs and research centers. Both of these organizations have a presence in DeKalb County. Check them out online and see for yourself.

These well intended folks would be better served joining with 4-H or FFA to strengthen the local chapters of these organizations. If they proceed alone I bet this program will be like Michelle Obama’s garden: Miraculously spring from seed overnight, gone the next season.

Anonymous said...

This is a excellent opportunity for Those who WANT to participate. 4-H & FFA have been around so long they have lost their zeal. Great fot those who want 4-H or FFA, but there are always new approaches. Can we at least be positive about HEALTH? It is not healthy to always find fault and be critical.

Leo said...


Here's a link to the Farm To School website. This organization is aimed more widely at improving school nutrition and often partners with 4-H and FFA organizations -- it is designed to bring various stakeholders together and to get local and healthier produce/products into schools while expanding on the educational opportunities for our students in this area. And although DCSS has 4-H and FFA, these programs are not in every school.

Leo said...

From the FTS website: Farm to School is broadly defined as a program that connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers. Since each Farm to School program is shaped by its unique community and region, the National Farm to School Network does not prescribe or impose a list of practices or products for the Farm to School approach.

In sum, Farm to School brings healthy food from local farms to school children nationwide. Farm to School is a comprehensive program that extends beyond farm fresh salad bars and local foods in the cafeteria to include waste management programs like composting, and experiential education opportunities such as planting school gardens, cooking demonstrations and farm tours. The program teaches students about the path from farm to fork, and instills healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime. At the same time, use of local produce in school meals and educational activities provides a new direct market for farmers in the area and mitigates environmental impacts of transporting food long distances. The Farm to School approach helps children understand where their food comes from and how their food choices impact their bodies, the environment and their communities at large.

There are a number of schools in GA already participating in this program and as I understand it, there are a number of outside organizations who want to get invovled in teaching our students about the importance of good nutrition while making it exciting. I hope that 4H and FFA programs will join in the FTS efforts.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I read the front page post and thought "Wow!" A post that doesn't flame parents from x,y, or z school. It doesn't rag on any BOE member. It doesn't even mention the redistricting plan. It is actually something that could improve child health.


The first reply was negative right off the bat. Why?
Oh yea, the meeting is at Fernbank. That is a red flag right away. Must be an activist with a political motive or some kind of "Garden Club".

Anonymous said...

Conceptually, this is a great idea. There’s nothing better than fresh fruits and vegetables. And I think there will be vine-ripened tomatoes readily available in heaven!
But (and color me cynical), the two words in this posting that send chills up my tax-paying spine are “U.S.” (as in Federal government) and “organic.” Both add costs and questionable value to whatever they’re involved in (Okay, the organic/non-organic bit is a separate argument that neither of us will win – you believe what you want to believe and I’ll believe what I believe).
Farm to School programs have been in existence in some form or another since 1967. I believe they started in Florida and California. In 2000, the USDA got involved, offering grants to, at least theoretically, provide a way for school systems to support local and/or family farms (I didn’t see this as a goal DeKalb County Schools 2020 Vision, by the way). Depending on which website you care to look at, there are active programs in anywhere from 32 to all 50 states and the number of programs ranges from 350+ to 1200. Again, cynically, I have to ask, if this is such a great idea and it’s been around this long, why isn’t there more participation?
I agree with two other posters that the 4-H Club and FFA are organizations that are far better suited to get some fresh produce into our schools. And it will likely be at less cost, less paperwork/hassle, and individual schools can participate, or not, as they choose, without mucking around with the entire county’s lunch program.
You may have picked up on the fact that I’m from the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought. I’m not aware that the logistics of our current lunch system needs “fixing.” If you don’t like the food selection, just remember that the same USDA that sponsors the Farm to School program approves the food in our current program.
Sorry, I’ve probably gone over my 2 cent limit.

Anonymous said...

I have not a problem with DCSS introducing yet another program if we were already providing ALL of our children with a world class education. However, we have too many schools who are not making the grade and our children are falling behind. We have so many other problems that are not being addressed. Is starting yet another new program really in the best interest of DCSS?

I don't care where the meeting is being held, who is running it, and why we are getting involved. We have other issues that are more pressing that need to be fixed in DCSS, than worry about "farm to school." Why aren't we putting more emphasis on the education our children are receiving or the academic coaches that aren't really helping our children, or the number of schools not making AYP increasing every year, or the wasted money on lawsuits because rules and regulations are not followed, etc. These seem to me to be more important issues that are facing our children.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read in the article that DCSS has agreed to implement this program. If they are going to start buying fresh produce for all schools, they will surely have to send it out to bid. If not, local schools I suppose can purchase their own but with what money - per pupil? PTA? Foundation? Who will be responsible for insuring quality, who's going to train staff to cook fresh veggies, not canned food dumped in a pan/pot & heated?

Leo said...

I feel like nutritional issues was one of the items brought up during the public charettes and while I wholeheartedly agree that DCSS as a whole needs to be focusing on improving the quality and equality of the educational offerings at our schools, I'm not sure why anyone would be adverse to the outside community partnering with our schools on a widespread basis to provide better nutrition to our students (some of whom may only eat at school) and additional educational offerings related to nutrition and the environment. Such a program does not take significant input from the senior leadership at the CO who should be more rightly focused on other issues, but does provide the community access to our schools for a specific purpose.

I'm just somewhat awed that this is so controversial, especially to anyone who has ever taken a look at the lunches served in our schools.

And @2:17, I think the purpose of the meeting is to identify what other schools in the US have been doing and what DCCS may want to consider and the options for implementing some or all of this type of program.

Anonymous said...

Before all you incredibly negative complainers spout your negative nonsense, this is the same group that the City of Decatur schools have been working with for the past three years. There is no politcal agenda. It's more nutrition focused than 4-H and FFA. And they aren't some liberal namby pampies; they've worked closely with the local business community with great success.

DCSS is way behind with school gardens as teaching tools.

Some of y'all would complain about the weather on a sunny day. Grow up, please.


Anonymous said...

Anon 4:30 PM is right. Have any of you seen the meals given out in DCSS middle schools? It's no wonder why obesity is such an issue these days.

Anonymous said...

Overall I find this blog to be informative and useful .... to a point !!

@Anonymous 2:38 PM - We are all unhappy with all the things you listed but this posting was about reaching out and making everyone aware of something that was going on at a local school. This is not a DCSS program, it just happens to be happening @ a DCSS elementary school. If no one had said anything and someone - maybe you - found out about this meeting happening after the fact all kinds of posts would be flying around that "those elitist Fernbank folks ....."

On this topic I think we should follow what we teach our kids - if you don't have something nice to say then just say nothing !!

Anonymous said...

Decatur Farm to School brough their cafeteria workers to the Cook's Warehouse to work with local chef's for easy tips on how to make meals healthier.

The cafeteria workers loved it. They loved the special attention and the appreciation, as they might be the least appreciated among all in school employees. Some of them teared up from the experience.

All of y'all complaining need to look in the mirror for some self-introspection; there's no excuse for your nonsense complaining.

Anonymous said...

"Decatur Farm to School brough their cafeteria workers to the Cook's Warehouse to work with local chef's for easy tips on how to make meals healthier."

Wouldn't that be amazing? I love this approach. I've been thinking that DCSS should be doing this for years. To think that when we first bought property we nixed being in city of Decatur for the "better" schools in DCSS (that was in the mid 1990s). Ahhh... to do that again. I really wish that Lakeside and DHHS feeder systems would try to latch into City of Decatur.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:04 AM and 11:59 am, this blog would be better if you two never post again!

Anyway, I like that Decatur Farm to School is working with local businesses. I've heard some local business owners say that they get hit up often various PTA and school fundraisers. This is a much more productive way to involve the county's business community.

Anonymous said...

"DCCS may want to consider"

I want DCSS to consider:
...lowering my property taxes
...graduating students with a
basic education

I want parents to consider:
....feeding their children
....teaching their kids social
....showing them thru a home or
already existing community
garden the source of food.
....showing their children how
to ride the bus to get cars
off the road.
....turning off the television
and removing ipads,
facebook, etc during the
evening hours when they
should be studying.
.... providing structure on the
home front so that the kids
get the exercise they need.

Is it possible that "new program" is code for funding from a new source? If 4H and FFA aren't "exciting", help them become exciting.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that "new program" is code for funding from a new source?

The answer is No.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure why anyone would be adverse to the outside community partnering with our schools on a widespread basis to provide better nutrition"

#1 Food Safety

Having raised organic produce since the 1970's I can tell you that not everyone has the knowledge to prevent food borne illnesses. What stink is going to be happen the first time a class of kids gets e-coli because too-fresh manure was used on produce?

...or they fail to wash their hands (fingernails) and pick up an illness or intestinal worms.

...or fail to distinguish between a toxic weed that landed in their salad section and ingest it.

I understand that we still have the commodity program in school. Let's work on the current situation and excel in academics before we bring in any new programs.

Digging a garden and nurturing the soil in your OWN back yard is the best way to teach your kids about food. My swiss chard survived the winter. I just planted my Alaska peas and broccolini and the lettuce is harvestable as we speak. By working in your own yard you'll get a little more concerned about using toxic chemicals on your yard or putting them down the toilet (damaging a septic field). I'm about to prune the fig bushes as well. I didn't learn this in school. I learned this watching my father do it at home.

A mother with her teenage daughters was frantic in a Walgreens. They were looking for mung beans in order to do a school experiment in which the effect of caffeine on growth was measured. I had to explain:
1: Walgreens isn't known for carrying mung beans.
2: Mung beans aren't usually found anywhere easily on the spur of the moment. (They used to be common in health food stores for growing sprouts.)
3: Radish seeds from Pikes would grow fast enough for a school experiment and were more easily found. A first grader can grow them.

If it was a teacher sending them on this mission, God help us.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:09, I am not going to suggest that you never post on this forum again, I think that would be rude. However, I will suggest that you get a clue from Anon 5:17.

Anonymous said...

So asking questions is "negative".

Nice. If you don't agree with the status quo, then shut up.

Way to go, Anon 5:09. You just demonstrated why I don't trust local activists to introduce "new programs".

I'll shut up now since someone died and put you in charge and I happen to think differently than you.

Continue your goosestepping

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be great if the cafeteria staff could serve fresh vegetables and fruits and get some cooking tips like City of Decatur?! Although the meals supposedly meet the nutrition guidelines, they are bland and often the food is all the same color...some variation of light brown: beige, pale yellow, tan - unappetizing to look at and taste. And then there are the Coke soda machines in the schools for students to make a purchase.

Anonymous said...

DCSS cafeteria meals are bland because the cafeteria workers must follow the recipe that the DCSS cafeteria staff gives them. We had a cook in our cafeteria and he made awesome food, but had to stop because he would get fired if he did not follow the recipes so that every school served the same bland crap.

I agree with 5:38. This could potentially be another law suit on our hands. Children eat salmonella laced lettuce. I can see it now.

This program would be fantastic if we didn't already have so much on our plates that needed attention. The food that the school feeds the kids is the least of our worries right now.

Anonymous said...

I do think that one thing this does point out is just another reason that DCSS is too big ... if we were a smaller system, things really wouldn't be so out of control and we could focus on the things that mattered to kids instead of needing to focus on the bigger things like fraud, corruption, qualifications of people in the various positions... it would be harder to hide with a smaller system.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what splitting DeKalb would accomplish. Incompetence is incompetence. It's not like the North end of the county doesn't have its fair share of incompetent principals, APs, and other high ranking administrators. Little will change with the current administrators running the show, no matter what the size of DeKalb stays or becomes in the future.

Anonymous said...

Y'all have gone crazy on this blog. Decatur Farm to School is an incredible bunch. Before you cast stones, check out their website and maybe attend a meeting. Plus they're backed by the very well respected Oakhurst Garden. Don't let the mess at the Central Office jade you on everything else.

Lesson Plans:

Sagamore 7 said...

We only have 3 weeks left to get the law changed!

If you want change in DCSS we need to change our school board and our districts!

As a legislator told me previously, we can't fire them, we can only change the law!

Vote for change and email the Dekalb Delegation NOW!


Anonymous said...

@ 10:55 I am sure that it is a super program. It's just with all that DCSS has trouble with right now, this is the least of the districts worries and should be the last thing focused on. When we have all schools making AYP, no lawsuits, all kids reading and performing mathematics on grade level, than we can worry about lunches and things like this. As far as I am concerned this is a tactic to get people off of the focus of the lack of learning and on to fluff. We don't need fluff right now. We need for our kids to receive an education that will last with them for the rest of their lives.

Anonymous said...

Guess what Anon 11:37, kids are different today than they were 30 years. Getting them to learn about science out in a garden works, and it works well. Getting them to eat healthier is a bonus.

Anonymous said...

I will teach my children about science in our garden and they eat very healthy because we only buy healthy food. It's not a school's job to tell my children what they can eat, but to educate them and teach them how to learn and think.

Our children are different because parents aren't doing the job of parenting. I don't want the government or the schools taking over my parenting responsibilities.

There is more to science than a garden. Gardening and plants is only one aspect. Many schools have garden clubs and if that is what you want, let the kids have a garden club.

Quite frankly, I know that the elementary math program is in shambles as the kids are learning less and less every year with teachers having to tweak it year after year. This worries me much more than having a gardening program at our schools.

DCSS can't get reading and math right, they don't need to be dabbling in anything else until our schools are better managed, finances spent wisely, and our children are all making AYP.

Cerebration said...

I think this is a wonderful idea -- as long as it's a voluntary program implemented by PTAs or some other volunteer group. History tells us that if this were to be an official DCSS "program", it would most likely require several six-figure administrators.

Check it out for your schools!

Anonymous said...

Well, if everyone is so concerned about the food being served in schools, what children eat, and Farm to School programs, please tell me why every time I am in DCSS schools I see all these vending machines? Believe me; these vending machines are not stocked with broccoli, tomatoes, corn and Brussels sprouts! Are we serious? Or is this just to make us feel good and say “we care”?

Anonymous said...

PThere are so many kids in our school district eating two meals a day at school. 70% are on free and reduced lunch, which means the school district is feeding our next generation. This comes with a responsibility. 30% of Georgia children are obese, and their life ahead includes diabedies and heart disease. There are many small positive changes that can come out of coming together around an issue that is critical to the lives of our children. There is a reason the White House is focusing on this at this time. Our country is waking up to the idea that by all health standards we are falling behind. Communities around the country are coming together like our neighbors, Decatur and APS to have the discussion and see where there is room to help our kids. People on this blog have just attacked the idea of having a meeting to discuss an important issue. Come to the meeting a raise your concerns. Let's hear what is happening all around us in our state from the Georgia Organics people before we throw stones.

Anonymous said...

Y'all are unbefrickin'lievable.

Have you heard of the phrase "damned if you do and damned if you don't"?

Anonymous said...

School lunch programs in DCSS and everywhere STINK. Creative solutions are badly needed. Why dump on VOLUNTEERS who are trying to make things better?

Blair said...

Thanks for this post. I am excited to see this coming to DeKalb and want to be a part of it!

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said.

To another poster. Kids are NOT different than they were 30 years ago. They still have (in general) 2 arms, 2 legs, and a brain.

I see people who want the best for their kids but what is different is who they want to be the provider. As a taxpayer, I don't want to raise your kids. As a member of society I do my share of volunteer work to help out. I want to see your kids have some hardship, just as I did, so that they learn to truly live and grasp the importance of what's been given them.

After school, garden club idea. Excellent. Better yet, have it meet at the library or in any of the senior centers so that they are exposed to the encyclopedia of knowledge that exists there. Either teach it at home or have an existing organization (such as the Extension office) teach it. But, don't use taxpayer money to teach it and administer it.

Anonymous said...

i teach kids who did not know that a chicken was a bird-they had never seen a live chicken. They did know about chicken tenders. this garden to school thing is a good idea and part of a national effort to get more healthy food in our cafterias. Speaking of chicken tenders some of our "nutritionists" go over board on junky finger food because it is available in bulk and it is cheap. We have a national epidemic of obesity in children. The government is responsible for epidemics and I am a voter in the governmental system. Most of my students are on free and reduced lunch. I know some of them don't get regular meals during the summer. So yuo have your worries about government and I have mine about poorly nourished kids. Georgia spends a billion dollars a year on imprisoning people. Maybe if we spent a little more time we wouldn't have to spend over $30,000 a year on each prisoner. Maybe we could produce more productive taxpayers. Oh well, let them eat cake.

Anonymous said...

Henderson Middle School (that high performing, overcrowded, step child in DCSS) has a garden that is nurtured by interested parents, staff and students - it doesn't feed the school and that is not the purpose - it has been a great opportunity to learn about science, growing cycles, nutrients, tending..and an opportunity for fresh air, exercise, working together, etc. Some children have not had a yard of their own and this let's them experience the possibilities and broadens their horizons - a good thing!

And yes, DCSS has many, many children who do not get meals on the weekends or who get "junk" food and return to school on Monday starving. Hungry minds are not able to excel!

Our bloggers are anti-church (which I totally understand given our New Birth experiences)so you may have an issue with this example of what a church is doing about hunger but PTAs and Foundations could do this too. See how this church is helping their nearest Title 1 school: http://www.embryhillsumc.org/node/176.

Could our more active, "wealthy" schools form partnerships to help our Title 1 schools - so these children have nourished brains to focus on learning on Monday morning instead of how hungry they are?

Anonymous said...

Enhancing Life Through Gardening

To learn to garden, please visit this Dekalb County Extension site. We don't need to pay for this twice.

The DeKalb Cooperative Extension is offering innovative, up-to-date gardening and landscaping training; training that is both practical and useful and is full of information that can be taken home and used right away....


Anonymous said...

Hey, everybody, want a great deal on an offical Columbia High School master key? Well, go on down to the locksmith next to the chicken wing place on Columbia DR at Glenwood and tell the man that Jonathan Woods sent you and that it's okay by him for you to get a master key without the words "Do Not Duplicate" on it. And if you say Jonathan Woods sent you, you'll 25% off your second master key to Columbia High School.

And, this deal isn't verified, but if you step next door the chicken wing place and tell them Uras Agee, III sent you and flash them a Columbila High School master key, you can get 10 wings and fries for $3.99.


Anonymous said...


Programs like Farm to School can lead to bigger things...