Yadkin County fourth-graders gathered at Yadkinville Elementary school on Friday to hear from North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. Troxler also spoke later in the day with county middle and high school students.
Troxler spoke to the students about the NC Farm to School program which provides locally-grown fruits and vegetables for school lunches. Last year, 80 school systems across the state participated in the nationally-recognized program, purchasing $1.4 million worth of North Carolina grown produce.
Cindy Marion, director of child nutrition for Yadkin County Schools, said it is a tremendous program for the school system and she was pleased the students also got the chance to meet the NC commissioner of agriculture.
“I think it really makes an impact on kids because it helps them learn where their fruits and vegetables come from,” Marion said. “We’re very active in the Farm to School program and I think it’s very important to us because it allows us to have the freshest most nutritious fruits and vegetables right here in our cafeterias, and it contributes back to our economy here in North Carolina because they’re grown by our local farms in the state. Agriculture is the number one industry in North Carolina, and it’s a huge industry here in Yadkin County.”
Top sellers in the Farm to School program, which began in 1997, include strawberries, apples and watermelons.
“We were on one of the first in the nation to have a Farm to School program,” Marion said. “Ours is very unique because it is a partnership with our Department of Agriculture. It’s a really great partnership we have and that is unique to the state of North Carolina.”
Troxler read a book to the students all about North Carolina grown sweet potatoes, how they are grown and how they eventually make their way to their school’s lunchroom. The students were served sweet potatoes for lunch that afternoon. Each student also received their own copy of a book about North Carolina raised strawberries.
During his talk with the students, Troxler asked if anyone wanted to grow up to be the N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture and several children raised their hands. He encouraged the youth to work hard in school, go to college and come work for him someday in the Department of Agriculture.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.