GAITHERSBURG, Md., May 26, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sodexo, world leader in Quality of Life Services, is participating in a school garden-based learning program through its Sodexo-Jackmont partnership with Atlanta Public Schools (APS). The District Grown Gardens Initiative expands the taste for healthy locally grown produce and knowledge about food origins while creating a community that values healthy eating.
Discovering Healthy Foods Through Garden-Based Learning
A collaborative project between Sodexo-Jackmont, the APS Nutrition Department, the Captain Planet Foundation, and Mirror Image Mentoring, the District Grown Gardens initiative focuses on increasing students' consumption of fruits and vegetables while making the connection between school garden produce and foods served in the cafeteria. Using traditional and alternative growing methods, the student-led program is being piloted at Beecher Hills Elementary, King Middle, Maynard Jackson High, and Mays High schools.
Sodexo-Jackmont's commitment to supporting student health and wellness aligns with the APS District Grown Garden Initiative's mission to grow healthier kids through better nutrition. "In collaboration with the Sodexo executive chef, we have created innovative recipes that incorporate more district grown and local foods to increase student's excitement about eating school lunch in the cafeteria," said Dr. Marilyn Hughes, RD, LD, director of APS Nutrition Department. "When students can connect the fruits and vegetables served in the cafeteria to what they see growing in their schools and communities, it encourages them to make healthier food choices away from school as well."
Working with Captain Planet Foundation and ServSafe to ensure that the produce is grown and handled within strict food safety guidelines, Sodexo Executive Chef Lisa Cantor helped to safely harvest, prepare, and serve a unique variety of radishes grown at King Middle and Maynard Jackson High. The radishes were offered on select cafeteria menus and promoted as the "Produce of the Month." In addition, fresh rosemary and basil harvested from Mays High Greenhouse was used to prepare menu items served to all APS cafeterias on Earth Day, Friday, April 22. Over the next few months, the program plans to feature spinach, carrots and snow peas from selected school gardens on the cafeteria lines.
Innovative Program Applauded By Georgia Agriculture Commissioner
During a recent visit to the district to observe the program up close and learn more about how it works, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black heralded the program for getting students actively involved in agriculture while supporting the community.
"I am so encouraged by the enthusiasm and work ethic of these students. It is amazing to see the sense of community generated by the garden and aquaponics laboratory," said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. "I hope these experiences will help the students realize what wonderful opportunities exist in the food, fiber and agriculture industries."
Sodexo delivers more than 100 services across North America that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life. The global Fortune 500 company is a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management, and foodservice operations.
Learn more about the company at its corporate blog, Sodexo Insights.
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