Students connect their food to the farmers

Farmers talked with students about where their food comes from / Sarah Bleau

Parents tell kids not to play with their food but teachers at International Studies Elementary Charter School encouraged it for the "Farm to School" program.

"They had a hands on experience, touching to see what an actual squash looked like, what an actual sweet potato looked like, and this is the reason why it was so enjoyable for me to have this experience with the kids today," says Donnie McCrary from Newton Community Plantation.

As kids peeled peas, a number of farmers were talking to them about where the food they eat comes from.

"We were peeling peas, we visited the farms and if we didn't have no farmers we wouldn't have no food," says Third Grader David Stephens.

School nutrition officials say most of the kids are used to seeing the prepared food, but on Wednesday they had a chance to see the raw product.

"A lot of the kids did not realize what the farmer does for them and I was trying to show them the different types of vegetables what they eat everyday â| it comes from the farm," says McCray. "Even the milk: One of the kids said 'we get our milk from the store;' no it doesn't come from the store, it comes from the farm. I wanted to make sure they realized how important the farmer is to their life."

This event was not just about introducing the students to farmers and where the vegetables really come from; it was also about introducing them to the dishes they can make from vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash.

"I got a lot of thumbs up I got a lot of enthusiastic children, and that's what it's all about; exposure and education and reintroduction continually with food," says Vanessa Hayes, Child Nutrition Services Director at ISECS.

"Farm to School" is an effort by the Southwest Georgia Project and the Dougherty County School System to bring healthy meals to schools. Hayes says the partnership is important because it will impact the community, local farmers, local kids and local schools.

"We understand that childhood obesity is our fight we understand that children need to be educated on what to eat, what choices to make and then they make great choices," says Hayes.

The students seem to be picking up the message.

"I learned that it's important to eat farm food because it's very fresh," says Third Grader Kelsea McCullar.

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