The Cherokee County School District has earned national honors for its School Nutrition summer meals program!
The school district every summer participates in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Seamless Summer Option, which offers free meals to children in need during the summer. The high quality of CCSD’s program earned the USDA’s Silver Turnip the Beet Award. CCSD School Nutrition is one of only a dozen school districts in Georgia to earn the national honor and one of only 84 nationwide.
“We’re so proud of our School Nutrition team – they are incredibly hard working, professional and deeply caring members of our CCSD family,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Our children cannot learn and thrive if they are hungry, and our School Nutrition team ensures that every child has access to a healthy breakfast and lunch each day. They take great pride in their work and have succeeded in expanding the menu to include more fresh foods, more homemade recipes and more choices for entrees and sides at every school.”
Dr. Hightower praised Tina Farmer, executive director for CCSD School Nutrition, for the significant efforts she and her team have undertaken, especially during the pandemic. They overcame challenges, he said, like increased demand from students and supply chain issues while, at the same time, continuously improved meals and service.
In order to earn the award, which CCSD School Nutrition now has earned three times, school districts must demonstrate the highest standards in meal preparation and delivery. Meals must be “appetizing, appealing, and nutritious,” meet national dietary guidelines, and include “local foods, a variety of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and low-fat and fat-free milk.”
Almost one-third of CCSD students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, and the summer meals program ensures they continue to have access to nutritious breakfasts and lunches throughout the school break. The program is funded by USDA grants and community donations. Last summer, CCSD School Nutrition rolled out a new delivery system using a converted school bus and a partnership with MUST Ministries to expand the program to serve more children in need.
Ms. Farmer said she and her team are working now on plans for this summer’s meal service. She does anticipate CCSD will receive less USDA funding for the program this summer, and that more financial donations from the community will be needed to provide meals to all students in need. Businesses, churches, civic clubs and other organizations and individuals who would like to help can contact CCSD School Nutrition at 770-721-8419.