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Local produce brightens student lunches

During lunchtime, Madison students enjoy farm-fresh oranges from Satsuma, Ala. CONTRIBUTED
During lunchtime, Madison students enjoy farm-fresh oranges from Satsuma, Ala. CONTRIBUTED
MADISON – Students in Madison City Schools’ cafeterias recently enjoyed oranges straight from the groves of sunny … Alabama?
Instead of citrus from well-known groves of Florida, students and teachers ate fresh oranges from a farm in Satsuma, Ala. In Mobile County, Satsuma shares its name with a type of orange. Farmers successfully started growing Satsuma oranges in 1878 after Alabama officials received cultivars as a gift from Meiji, Japan. (wikipedia.com)
“School lunches sometimes get a bad rap,” John S. Peck said. Peck works as MCS Public Relations Manager. “The Alabama-grown oranges proved a hit in Madison City school lunchrooms on Dec. 12.
Students were encouraged to “nix the packed lunch and try the school meal on Dec. 12. Madison City Child Nutrition Program staffs work hard each day to ensure quality food with nutritional value,” Peck said.
The orange shipments were part of Alabama’s growing Farm-to-School initiative.
Alabama’s Farm-to-School initiative is a partnership between the Department of Agriculture and Food Bank of North Alabama to match school cafeterias with produce grown on local farms. Other local commodities have included tomatoes from Blount County, watermelons from Cullman County and local sweet potatoes.
Apples from Scott’s Apple Orchard in north Madison County have become a regular choice in serving lines of Madison schools.
“The Farm-to-School program benefits Madison City Schools by providing fresh, high quality, nutritious produce to the students, at a more affordable cost, while also benefiting our local growers,” Marty Tatara said. Tatara works as MCS Child Nutrition Program Coordinator.
Madison cafeteria staffs often get creative with posters about the farmer and the featured produce. “The Farm-to-School program is a win-win for all,” Peck said.
Madison City Schools and Madison County Schools are founding members of the Farm Food Collaborative project with the Food Bank that connects local family farmers to buyers like schools and workplace cafeterias. Statistics from 2015 show that Madison City Schools and Madison County Schools
served 44,000 pounds (22 tons) of locally grown apples to 30,000 students.
For more information, visit madisoncity.k12.al.us orTwitter #ALfarmsFeedKids.

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