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Georgia Grown program kicks off with sweet potato fries in schools | Health

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Georgia Grown program kicks off with sweet potato fries in schools
Health, Schools
Georgia Grown program kicks off with sweet potato fries in schools

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. -- Students were in for a treat when sweet potato fries were recently introduced to school lunch menus in Fulton County.

The school district held promotional events to raise awareness about how sweet potato fries are rich in vitamins A and C.

The healthier fries are part of the Georgia Grown and Farm to School programs, which were started in February and will continue throughout the school year.

The Farm to School initiative is a national movement dedicated to providing students with local fresh fruits and vegetables. Georgia Grown is an association of in-state farmers who provide produce to schools and businesses.

Thanks to Georgia Grown, students will be provided with a fresh fruit or vegetable from a farm in Georgia each week. In addition, they will learn how food is produced and how their food selections benefit the environment and community.

"The goal is to offer locally grown fruits and vegetables and to help farmers sell produce closer to home," said Alyssia Waters, the school system's nutrition regulatory coordinator.

The sweet potato fries offered in local elementary schools are baked, which helps support the district's mission to provide healthy and nutritious food to students.

Elementary schools no longer fry foods; instead, they offer more baked items. Middle and high schools have also decreased the amount of fried food offered to students.

"We have revised menus in recent years to increase fresh fruits and vegetables served," said Brenda Blanton, Fulton County Schools' executive director of school nutrition. "This supports the school nutrition department's standard of always providing a healthy, nutritious meal to all students."

As a way to raise healthy food awareness to students, the Fulton County School Nutrition Program held events to promote sweet potato fries throughout the district.

Students who selected sweet potato fries in the cafeteria line were given orange bracelets that stated "Orange is Sweet" and were entered into a drawing to win prizes such as iTunes gift cards, movie tickets and books.

Fifteen schools were part of the event:

* Randolph Elementary, Atlanta
* Love T. Nolan Elementary, College Park
* Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary, East Point
* Renaissance Elementary, Fairburn
* Autrey Mill Middle, Johns Creek
* River Trail Middle, Johns Creek
* Shakerag Elementary, Johns Creek
* Taylor Road Middle, Johns Creek
* Crabapple Crossing Elementary, Milton
* Centennial High, Roswell
* Hembree Springs Elementary, Roswell
* Roswell High
* Ison Springs Elementary, Sandy Springs
* Ridgeview Middle, Sandy Springs
* Spalding Drive Elementary, Sandy Springs

Sweet potato fries will remain on the menu in all Fulton County public schools, and students will be encouraged to try them.

Parents can check out the menus for the upcoming week, as well as nutritional information, on the school nutrition website.

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