Children who turn up their noses at the thought of Brussels sprouts usually become adults who avoid those healthy vegetables.
The South Carolina Farm to School Program is working to expose young people to fruits and vegetables in the hope of creating lifelong appreciation and consumption of these nutritious foods.
According to Beth Crocker, general counsel for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, “The program takes a holistic approach to exposing students to the benefits of locally grown produce.”
She explains that the 100 participating schools serve South Carolina fruits and vegetables, and they also make sure students know they’re eating local produce through signage and other efforts.
South Carolina farmers are also reaping the benefits because the school cafeterias offer them a new local market for selling their produce. To participate in the program, state farmers must have a special certification called GAP, for Good Agricultural Practices.
The program, administered by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, is aimed at minimizing food contamination risks in the harvesting and processing of fruits and vegetables. It involves examining the producer’s water, heating and cooling techniques for processing, sanitation practices and employee training methods.
“The certification recognizes farmers who work to eliminate their crop’s exposure to potential contaminants,” Crocker says. “It’s a point of pride for our growers to complete this certification.”