Monroe, Georgia – October 11, 2017– In its effort to strengthen communities through food sovereignty and education, the Georgia Farmers Market Association is excited to announce that this year it is hosting two FoodCorps service members, Hannah McTier and Deanna Perlman, who will be serving at two local schools, Harmony Elementary School and Walker Park Elementary School, in Walton County. During their one-year service term, these two community leaders will teach hands-on gardening and cooking lessons that inspire students to fall in love with healthy food; collaborate with food service staff to steer students towards the healthiest options in the cafeteria; and work alongside school administrators and teachers to foster a schoolwide culture of health.
FoodCorps has served in Georgia since 2014 in partnership with Georgia Organics, a statewide organization that promotes and supports farm-to-school programs. Over the past three years, FoodCorps Georgia’s 21 service members have reached thousands of students through hands-on lessons and supported community and school gardens throughout the state.
Currently, nine out of ten children don’t eat enough vegetables, six out of ten children don’t eat enough fruit, and one out of three children — and one out of two children of color — are on track to develop diabetes in their lifetime. Schools can help close that nutrition gap by creating healthy food environments and getting kids on a healthy path to success.
As a national organization that connects children to healthy food in schools, FoodCorps partners with schools in limited resource communities to create healthy food environments. FoodCorps service members like Hannah and Deanna support and empower the communities they serve by building and expanding school gardens, providing lessons and resources to staff, and encouraging the continued effort toward health for future generations to come.
Hands-on programs like this are proven to be effective. Last year, 75% of schools where FoodCorps serves were measurably healthier and six out of ten students had improved attitudes towards vegetables and trying new ones. Students in FoodCorps schools who received more hands-on lessons were eating three times the amount of fruits and vegetables than students who did not receive those lessons.
As the Georgia Farmers Market Association continues to grow and further its support of sustainable agricultural practices, increase whole food access, and strengthen farmers market infrastructure, it hopes that its partnership with FoodCorps will expand awareness, outreach, and educational opportunities to a new audience of young people. Georgia Farmers Market Association Executive Director Sagdrina Jalal, says, “GFMA is a catalyst for promoting good health by networking public and private sectors around local food systems. Our signature local food cooking curriculum, Nourish!, emphasizes the importance of reintroducing fresh, local food to the family table. By partnering with FoodCorps, we will be able to support schools in their role in establishing healthy communities. We look forward to seeing Hannah and Deanna engage Walton County students in rich experiences geared toward increasing their knowledge and appreciation for healthy food.” More and more schools and communities are showing a strong desire to incorporate farm-to-school lessons into their curriculum and nutrition programs. With the help of FoodCorps, GFMA would like to see these initiatives expand and thrive across the state, giving schools and communities the resources they need to impact and shape their local food system.
While GFMA is serving as the site coordinator for the FoodCorps Service Members in Walton County, their presence depends on a committed network of community partners. Without the support of Walton Wellness, the Walton County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Walton County Extension Office, Deanna and Hannah would not have the tools they need in order to succeed within their schools and within the community.
For more information about The Georgia Farmers Market Association and FoodCorps, visit www.mygeorgiamarket.org and www.foodcorps.org. You can also contact Deanna or Hannah to learn more about their service in Walton County: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.