On Aug. 29 at 11 a.m. the Georgia Grown program came to ABAC in an event held for the student dining hall to make ABAC into a school for Georgia by Georgia. The Georgia Grown program is a developmental program that aids the economy of agriculture in Georgia by bringing together all the different parts and businesses of Georgia agriculture for the consumers in the community. This program is made to help the businesses in Georgia grow and to help improve the quality of the food in Georgia.
Preparations for this event started with minor renovations in and around the dining hall. When asking about the installment of the new flower bed outside of the dining hall entrance Brad Barbee (Grounds superintendent) stated, “With the recent interest in the dining hall with Georgia Grown they wanted to make the landscape a little fresher.” He also stated that the upper administration wanted the students to have something that they can be proud of and use as a photo opportunity and that the flower bed can be changed 6-8 times annually. The rest of the staff in the dining hall were also preparing for the change with the new Georgia Grown program.
Naomi, one of the cooks at ABAC, said that she expects they will serve mostly the same foods, but the quality will be better and hopefully, the dining hall will get more students. The dining hall also made the addition of a mural dedicated to the Georgia Grown program that Dr. David Bridges said would serve to remind the students, faculty, staff and guests of ABAC’s commitment to Georgia and Georgia’s community.
Bridges led the Georgia Grown event and thanked the staff, students, artist, Dan Miller (the director of dining), Jay Johnson (the executive chef) and Paul Willis. He said that while he talked about it and agreed to it, Paul made it work. He stated some of the goals of this change. First, when the students of ABAC go home they can talk about where their food comes from, and to include fiber and tender products.
Bridges then introduced Commissioner Gary W. Black from the Georgia Department of Agriculture to speak about the importance of the Georgia Grown program and lead the blessing. Commissioner Black said, “The disruption to challenge conventional thought with a dream, that’s the type of disruption that we always need. We need a little shake to be shaken to the core from time to time… be disruptive enough and we dream without assuming.” He then went on to state that the challenge of conventional thought is what has started this process of switching to the Georgia Grown program.
When interviewed, Commissioner Black stated, “It’s one thing to teach agriculture, it’s one thing prepare the next generation of leaders, it’s a completely heightened commitment to actually provide the fuel for the next generation of leaders that is a Georgia Grown product.” He is also hopeful that agricultural students will see that their food is coming from a place not too far from where they are and that they will be inspired to pursue their careers because of this.
The Georgia Grown program was introduced as a program for the people of Georgia. It will encourage sale and distribution of Georgia Grown products and the overall economy of Georgia. With this new change to the dining hall, there is hope that more students come to eat there, and that students feel more comfortable by knowing what they are eating and where it comes from. The Georgia Grown switch will be a little more work and cost a little more initially, but the administration is certain that this will be a beneficial change for ABAC.