And if what you eat is “Georgia Grown” you are making Georgia “one powerful community.” That’s according to Commissioner Gary Black of the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
His department created Georgia Grown, a marketing and economic program of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Black says the program’s number one goal is “to aid our agricultural economies by bringing together producers, processors, distributors, and consumers in one powerful community.”
An example of the program’s initiative is their partnership with the University of Georgia Food Services. Many food options in the dining commons are marked with the Georgia Grown icon, meaning that this item is locally sourced, or contains ingredients locally sourced from the state of Georgia.
According to Kevin Kirsche, director of the University of Georgia Office of Sustainability, Food Services at UGA uses roughly 20% of local food in dining halls, and this percentage is hopefully increasing. Local in this sense means food from Georgia or a bordering state.
Georgia Grown is a local-minded initiative, rooted in sustainability partnered with opportunity for Georgia farmers and producers. All five University of Georgia dining halls participate in marking their local food items to do their part for the program. Each dining commons has menu items marked with the Georgia Grown icon, indicating that item is sourced or has ingredients sourced from the state of Georgia.
Other initiatives on campus go hand in hand with Georgia Grown, such as Real Food UGA, an active campaign on campus. Their goal, according to crew leader Lori Hanna, is to get the University “to commit to sourcing more just and sustainable food.”
Bryan Varin, Interim Executive Director of Food Services, was honored with the “Outstanding Staff Award” by the UGA Office of Sustainability for his commitment to sustainability in the dining commons, along with his efforts with Georgia Grown. According to Varin, UGA Food Services do their best to ensure that they “take advantage of any opportunity to use locally produced and locally grown products.”
UGA Food Services purchases a wide variety of food sourced in Georgia, such as seasonal produce, fresh chicken, shell eggs, pecans, milk, etc., for the dining commons as well as Campus Catering. These products come from every corner of the state- for example, most local chicken comes from the Gainesville area, and produce may come from North or South Georgia, depending on the season.
“We are doing our best to ensure that we look at any opportunity to buy Georgia Grown” said Varin. “We are mindful that local is better for our customers and the State and focus on any reasonable and fiscally responsible partnership we can establish.”
If you plan on visiting any of UGA’s campus eateries soon, rest assured, there’s a good chance you’re consuming locally sourced foods. In doing so, you’re helping the State in a myriad of ways- one bite at a time.