Donna Martin’s #FarmtoSchool Success in Burke County, Georgia

2017-04 Policy To Plate Donna

Donna Martin, EdS, RDN, LD, SNS, addresses the 2016 Policy to Plate meeting in Washington, DC

On June 1, 2017, Donna Martin, EdS, RDN, LD, SNS, FAND, became President of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. In this prestigious volunteer position Donna will lead over 100,000 credentialed practitioners including registered dietitian nutritionists, dietetic technicians, registered, and other dietetics professionals, into the second century of the Academy – focused on a global vision of “A world where all people thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition.”

Donna’s day job is equally important: She is Director of the School Nutrition Program for Burke County Public Schools, Georgia. Donna’s passionate belief in the transformative power of nutrition is deeply felt in Burke County, which has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the US. She has brought local produce – and local whole grain grits – into the cafeterias and started farmers markets for families and school staff. Her work to transform school nutrition in rural Georgia was recognized the White House and, in April 2016, First Lady Michelle Obama and Al Roker visited Burke Middle School to help plant the school garden. Her efforts to reduce food waste and support local farmers were recognized with top honors in the 2016 Georgia Organics Gold Radish Awards.

I was fortunate to visit Burke County Schools in April 2017 to personally see (and taste) the fruits (and veggies) of Donna Martin’s labors. My day started with a delicious grab-n-go breakfast Yogurt Parfait featuring blueberries, strawberries and bananas at Burke County Middle School, followed by a classroom Charlie Cart nutrition-cooking lesson. The fourth graders made delicious mini-strawberry shortcakes from scratch – with local berries, of course. My next stop was the best – a Georgia Grown lunch at Waynesboro Primary School, featuring local White Acre peas, collards, strawberries, cornbread, chicken and milk. This was Southern school food at its best and, if you are ever near Waynesboro, Georgia, I highly recommend that you visit for lunch.

Waynesboro Lunch

Waynesboro Elementary School Georgia Grown School Lunch

Donna Martin has long been a role model for everyone in the Georgia School Nutrition Association. Now she is an inspiration to all Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics members who want to be actively involved in transforming food systems across the country and around the world.

You can follow Harvest Bright, Burke County’s Farm to School Program on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


31 Days of #RealSchoolFood: Fruitastic Santas for #Christmas

Tomorrow night is Santa’s time to shine – and I totally agree with milk and cookies as the preferred snack of bearded men who drop down chimneys. However, I also think that sometime you need some fruit to go with your cookies and milk. With that in mind, here are two Fruitastic Santa Snacks – and a veggie one too, just for good measure.

These Strawberry Santa Snacks are super easy – and you still have time to buy the three ingredients you need: berries, cream cheese (or substitute whipped cream) and mini-chocolate chips. These are so sweet that Santa may just need a glass of ice cold milk with them.

Fruitastic Strawberry Santas

Fruitastic Strawberry Santas

These clever Santa Poppers have three more ingredients: Bananas, marshmallows and red candies. That’s a little more sugar – but also perfect with a tall refreshing glass of ice cold milk. Step-step-by-step instructions are available at the link above – and you get to eat all the extra fruit pieces while you are making them!

Strawberry-Banana Santas

Strawberry-Banana Santas

And, because I could not resist, how about some Tomato-Goat Cheese Santas? The recipe link calls for some brand name cheeses, but I am guessing your favorite soft cheese combination would work just as well. I would definitely make these if I hadn’t already committed to a ‘pine cone’ cheese ball made with almonds. So many cheesy appetizer opportunities, so little time!

Tomato and Goat Cheese Santas

Tomato and Goat Cheese Santas