The University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Food and Nutrition Systems participated in the first Mississippi Farm to School Week in collaboration with Stone County’s Child Nutrition Director Myra Rayburn.
Rayburn, along with Southern Miss assistant professor Dr. Alicia Landry and graduate student Kelsey Lingsch, designed a menu for the students of Stone County School District. The locally grown menu included products from Indian Springs Farmers’ Cooperative of Petal, Miss., Blue Tara Organic Blueberry Farm in Poplarville, Miss., and Eubanks Produce Farms in Lucedale, Miss.
“As a department, our mission is to prepare students for careers as dietetic professionals who will enhance the quality of life for individuals, groups, families, organizations, and communities in the state, region, and nation,” said Landry. “Nutrition faculty work very hard to be innovative and purposeful in all we do and being a part of local and national outreach to influence public policy is very important part of dietetics. Instilling the value of leadership, commitment, and health promotion in our students is invaluable.”
Mississippi’s Farm to School Week was signed into legislation by Gov. Phil Bryant in May of this year. The first week in October is designated throughout the state to serve as an educational opportunity to teach children about local farming and the importance of eating healthy.
School districts throughout the state incorporate local foods from local farmers into their school menus to combine the importance of eating a well balance diet along with learning about local agriculture.
All students of the Stone County School District were able to receive a locally grown lunch throughout the week, but an added educational emphasis was place at Stone County Elementary to help educate its students. Stone County Elementary assembled its third, fourth, and fifth grades to educate them on eating healthy, eating locally, and encouraging the students to share their learning experience with their parents.
State Rep. Toby Barker was present to speak to the children about the importance of proper nutrition and physical fitness. Local famers were also encouraged to come to the school and enjoy lunch with the students. At the lunch, students were able to meet these local farmers and learn more about the local farms in their state.
For more information about the Southern Miss Department of Nutrition and Food Systems, call 601.266.5377.