Clear Creek Elementary Schools cafeteria will serve as a 2015-16 Georgia Grown Test
Kitchen. Promoting local and healthy eating in schools, this Georgia Department of
Agriculture program supplies school nutrition directors with healthy recipes using
Georgia Grown commodities. Pam Blakeney, director of school nutrition for Bartow
County Schools, believes the most impactful aspect of the program is its ability to link nutrition and education.
“Currently, we obtain at least 20 percent of our fruits and vegetables from local sources. We are
excited about this new initiative, which will give us the opportunity to test recipes using the
fresh, locally grown food we already serve,” she said. “Also, students will have access to see
food preparation demonstrations at various times throughout the school year. I believe the
demonstrations and food samples may help broaden our students’ experience with healthy food.”
Once a month a new Georgia Grown recipe will be prepared for students to sample or select as a
part of their lunch meal. If a particular recipe is received well by the CCES students, the item
will be added to the menu for other schools as well.
The Georgia Grown Test Kitchen will help bridge the gap in the nutritional value and quality of
food served in Georgia schools, while providing more farm-to-cafeteria opportunities. The end
result will be healthier Georgia students, decreased barriers in farm-to-school efforts and
increased awareness as students learn and experience, both educationally and nutritionally, about
the production of their food. The recipes will contain information on how to source the products
used and nutritional content. In turn, the schools will provide feedback on the given recipes.
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black hopes the program, which is in its second
year, will influence the buying habits of nutritional directors throughout the state.
“We are showing the ease that comes with purchasing local products for school systems, while
improving the nutritional value for students,” he said. “We look forward to working with these
schools this year to promote local and healthy eating in school systems throughout the state.”
The first test kitchen event is Thursday, Aug. 13, at CCES. Samples of watermelon punch will be
distributed to students during lunch from 10:45 a.m. to noon. Last year 10 schools were chosen to
participate, with five schools added to the new roster. This
year’s additions also include:
- Apalachee High School of Barrow County
- Renfroe Middle School of City Schools of Decatur
- Hickory Hills Elementary School of Marietta City Schools
- Georgia State University Panther Dining