State ag

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 24, 2005

department gives to city schools


The Selma Times-Journal

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The Selma City School System recently received a large donation from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries to help support the school system’s new nutrition program.

Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks on Thursday presented school officials with a check for $25,000.

The funds will go towards the system’s NEWS (Nutrition, Exercise, Wellness and Study) program set to be implanted at the start of the school year.

Superintendent Dr. James Carter and his staff spent the past few years developing the program in an effort to curb the growing rate of obesity, diabetes and hypertension among Dallas County youth.

The school system has already begun increasing the amount of vegetables in their lunch program, reducing high fat foods and limiting the amount of sodium and carbohydrates.

The school system will also no longer offer carbohydrate drinks and whole milk.

Recently, the Alabama State School Board implemented similar changes for all public schools in the state, in addition to the requirement that all students in grades K-8 be taught physical education by certified P.E. teachers by the 2007-08 school year.

Mayor James Perkins Jr., who attended the meeting with Sparks and school staff, said he likes to think the state board’s decision was &8220;birthed out what we are doing in Selma.&8221;

Carter said the school system is in the process of preparing teachers and staff for the changes in the school’s nutrition program.

Carter added that he hoped the school system’s partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Industries will continue for years to come.

Dr. Verdell Lett-Dawson, coordinator of

curriculum and instruction for the school system, said the fact that Selma schools began making nutritional changes long before the state’s mandate is &8220;an example that Selma students are going to lead, not follow.&8221;

Sparks said the NEWS program is a positive move for the school system that will impact generations of students.