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Peach County Schools Begin Implementing New 'Farm to School Grant', Making Middle Georgia Great

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Macon based non-profit Community Health Works recently won an award from the USDA to implement a 'Farm to School' partnership with Peach County Schools.

The program will be used to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to Peach County classrooms, as well as an education program on the importance of eating natural products.

As part of the program, local organic farmer Greg Weeks is using his thyme, oregano, chives, dill, sage, and basil that's growing in his greenhouse to help educate kids and adults of the importance of eating foods like his that are an all-natural product.

"We don't use any synthetics at all," Weeks said. "Everything is natural."

Much like the life of an organic farmer revolves around his product, the life of a student often revolves around lunchtime. The Farm To School grant, is helping forge those two worlds together. 

Fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs will soon become a common sight on Peach County School lunch trays.

Why do this? Community Health Works director of childhood obesity program Maggie McCune, says it's because Georgia has the second highest rate of childhood obesity in the country.

"It's a way for us to try and reverse childhood obesity in our community," McCune explained. "By increasing a child's knowledge of, engagement with, and access to healthy food."

Because of that number, Peach County School Nutritionist TiSharkie Allen, was eager to get in on the program as well.

"It'll help them (students) to again, be exposed to fruits and vegetables, that they might not get on a daily basis or even be used to or willing to try," Allen said.

Not only will students gain access to healthier food, the program will also provide outlets for education. Because this is such a new program, the exact design of that education is still unknown, but it could look like field trips to the local farms, building gardens in the school for students to tend, or even bringing local farmers to the school to show kids how to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

McCune says, this program is crucial, and about more than access to local food supplies.

"It's about really getting them to be engaged in farm to school, and hopefully develop those healthy habits that last a lifetime."

Community Health Works was awarded $99,992 from the USDA. The grant will be fully implemented by this spring. It will also be used to provide culinary training for school nutritionists, as well as developing new lunch menus.

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