Phone: (770) 787-1330 Fax: (770) 784-2950 Email: info@newton.k12.ga.us

News

Newton County School System (NCSS) students can enjoy fresh strawberries grown on a local Newton County farm as part of school breakfast and/or lunch meals in May. Mitcham Farm, a family owned and operated farm located in Oxford, GA, has supplied locally grown strawberries for the NCSS School Nutrition Program annually since 2011.

In recent years, school nutrition programs across the country have begun including produce grown locally – either grown in-state or in surrounding states - on school breakfast and lunch menus. Serving locally grown produce allows students to experience produce at its most flavorful – when it is harvested in season and transported a shorter distance between the farm and the cafeteria.  Featuring locally grown produce also provides opportunities to educate students about the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables and the origin of their food.

This school year, the NCSS School Nutrition Program has offered locally grown Vidalia onions, watermelon, cucumbers, green peppers, varieties of apples, and sweet potatoes on school breakfast and/or lunch menus. When offered, signage highlighting the locally grown fruit or vegetable, interesting facts about the produce, and nutrition information has been posted on cafeteria serving lines and the NCSS School Nutrition Program webpage.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), offering fresh, locally grown produce on school breakfast and lunch menus is considered one of several types of “Farm to School” activities that have the potential to positively impact local farmers, the local economy, and students’ eating habits. In fact, a recent review of the effectiveness of farm to school initiatives found that in the majority of studies, students made healthier selections when they were offered more fruit and vegetable choices, and specifically when the produce offered was in-season and locally grown, and students were educated about the produce.

Strawberries are a nutritious choice for students; they are an excellent source of vitamin C and contain dietary fiber, folate, and potassium. Like many other fruits and vegetables, strawberries also contain special compounds, called phytochemicals, or “plant chemicals,” which protect the plant against environmental hazards and also protect human cells. The phytochemicals found in strawberries may help protect against heart disease and certain types of cancers.

 

For more information or references, please contact Brittany Bingeman, SNP Wellness Coordinator at bingeman.brittany@newton.k12.ga.us or 770-784-4966.

“This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

####