Graves Schools’ farm-to-school produce to be featured in documentary | News
GRAVES COUNTY, KY (KFVS) - The documentary, “Well Fed: Nourishing Our Children for a Lifetime,” will air on KET, Kentucky Educational Television, Monday, February 18, at 8 p.m.
“We’re looking at what schools, parents, and communities can do to help kids eat better,” said Laura Krueger. The TV producer was leading the videotaping of a documentary for Kentucky Educational Television at Graves County Central Elementary School in the final days of the 2011-12 school year.
A number of individuals interested in the project also were on hand for the taping.
“School lunches are a big part of a child’s life,” Krueger continued. “So, we’re really trying to highlight the farm-to-school program. Not only does it help kids eat fresh, local produce, but it also helps the farmers and local agriculture. I think right now it’s all about starting the process. We’re saying here is a school district that has started with fresh farm-to-school produce and maybe next year they’ll build on it. Farm-to-school is not rare at this point, but it’s not widespread, either.”
“What I do is I connect the school district food services director to the producer to help them bring that fresh, local product into the school system for the kids,” said Tina Garland, the farm-to-school program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. “It’s a win/win situation. Our agriculture producers can get the produce to the school within 24 hours of harvest. Otherwise, your food is traveling 1,500 miles, losing freshness and nutritional value.”
“We’ve been working with schools for three to four years now. We’re still picking up new customers, more schools,” said Jerry Wyatt. He and his son Matt Wyatt operate Ky. Hydro Farm, LLC, in Marshall County. It’s near Draffenville, about 30 miles northeast of Graves County Central Elementary School. The Wyatts raise a variety of vegetables hydroponically, providing higher nutritional value. Their quick exchange from harvest to delivery provides freshness.
“I was pleasantly surprised. There are about one-third of our sixth graders who choose to eat lettuce, so I think that’s great,” said Central Elementary principal Stephanie Sullivan. “I understand this lettuce doesn’t have the chemicals some lettuce does. So, it’s a healthy choice for our students and our staff. Of course, most of our adult staff members like to eat salads and healthy foods. We also are glad we can help local agriculture.”
“It’s very important as each generation gets further removed from the farm that we educate our young people on where our food comes from, how it’s raised, and its nutritional value,” said Kentucky’s Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture, Bruce Harper. “I think the farm-to-school program is a great tool in teaching our kids about it.”
“Naturally, it’s exciting to me for any group to come to Mayfield and Graves County, but in this situation, it is a great opportunity for the Department of Agriculture to show the people in the area what they’re doing promoting agriculture,” said Fred Nesler. At the time of the visit in May 2012, he served as Second District State Representative. Later, he accepted the position of deputy executive director in the Office of Strategic Planning and Administration of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
Nesler continued, “In this case, that’s [promoting] fresh, nutritional food grown in the area. Jerry Barber, in the south part of Graves County, is a farmer who grows sweet potatoes and so, we’re hoping that we can get him involved in providing schools fresh sweet potatoes. That’s a connection we made in talking with the deputy commissioner of agriculture here and, of course, we’d love to get others Graves County farmers involved, too.”
Shelina McClain taught family and consumer science at Graves County High School for 17 years. This summer, she transferred to the school district’s central office as Food Services director. She and Nesler recently toured Ky. Hydro Farm.
“We have great relationships with everyone involved in this project,” she said. “Obviously, there are a number of benefits to the farm-to-school program and we’re really happy that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and KET included our schools in the documentary.”
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