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GCPS gets award for local farm-grown food

SUWANEE -- A partnership between Gwinnett County Public Schools and local farmers has garnered attention at the state and national levels.

The Georgia Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently presented the district's school nutrition program professionals with the USDA Best Practice Award for its Farm 2 School initiative, which began during the 2010-11 school year.

The program, which puts locally grown produce on students' breakfast and lunch trays, features a different fruit or vegetable on the menu every month.

During the 2010-11 school year, Gwinnett County Public Schools provided more than 800,000 servings to students of the system.

Jorge Quintana, director of media relations with the school system, said it was "an honor to learn that others are paying attention to what we're doing here in Gwinnett for the benefit of our students."

"Our school nutrition folks are an innovative bunch, always looking for new ways to make sure that our students are eating the healthy meals they need to stay focused on their school work," Quintana said.

"We gladly accept the award as it encourages us to continue supporting our students," he added.

According to Quintana, the district has served 261,000 apples, 225,000 servings of watermelon and 8,000 servings of strawberries in the last year.

According to its website, the USDA "provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management."