Farm to School in Rabun County: “It’s Part of our Heritage”

Megan Connolly

Rabun County’s School Nutrition Director, Cindi Dean, procured local cabbage from Osage Farms as well as Georgia Grown Brussels sprouts which were featured on the cafeteria lines last week.  She and her team are celebrating Georgia’s harvest and what perfect timing- she and her team are October’s School Nutrition Team of the Month.

Mrs. Dean is the School Nutrition Director as well as the Title 1 Director.  She has worked in school nutrition for 17 years and was the School Nutrition Director in Towns for four years before taking on the Rabun School Nutrition Director role which she has held for the past four years.  When asked why Farm to School is important to her, Mrs. Dean replied,

“It is part of our heritage.  We need to make sure children learn these things.  Farm to School educates children where are food comes from and shows them that they can grow their own.  Farm to School brings the community into the kitchen”.

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Rabun County’s School Nutrition Director, Cindi Dean

Farm to School started in Rabun in 2005 when the School Nutrition Director at the time, Lynda Marziliano, started procuring local produce through August Produce, a regional distributor.  She had a vision and worked hard to bring Farm to School to Rabun.  Kimberly Terrell, her successor, continued Mrs. Marziliano’s vision and now Mrs. Dean is continuing to strengthen the Farm to School program.

Some of the exciting Farm to School efforts include school gardens, Farm to School curriculum integration in all four schools, great successes with taste tests and local procurement.  When asked what her favorite school menu looks like Mrs. Dean said, “Lots of local vegetables and fruits, colorful trays.  I love to see a student select everything on the line”.

Mrs. Dean is very proud of her school nutrition staff. “They are generous, caring and they nurture students.  They are encouraging and help the students do the right thing”.  The districts cafeteria managers Skeet Hollifield, Ronda Lancaster and Marie Chastain, are all supportive of Farm to School.

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Rabun County Elementary School’s Cafeteria Staff Member, Maria Yepez, prepares local cabbage from Osage Farms

Mrs. Dean’s top two Farm to School goals this year are to continue the successes of Farm to School and to introduce new items on the cafeteria line to peak the students interest.

When asked what type of vegetable she’d be and why she replied, “A potato, they have lots of eyes.  I’d see more things, get more ideas.”  Mrs. Dean is keeping her eyes on the students of Rabun County, making sure they get nutritious produce at school!

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