Harris County elementary school fighting food insecurity with garden project

Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 10:54 AM EDT
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HARRIS COUNTY, Ga. (WTVM) - Preparations are underway at New Mountain Hill Elementary School’s Hilltop Harvest.

The schoolwide harvest allows each class to grow produce helping local food banks.

“So, we donate our food to Focus Ministries here in Harris County and the Hope Center, said New Mountain Hill’s Principal Jessica Burnett. “Last year we donated over 400 bags of produce.”

According to Science for Georgia in 2019, food insecurity affected 1 in 8 Georgians.

Food insecurity is linked to poor work and school performance plus some health conditions.

That’s why 4th grade students like Wyatt Stevenson and Autumn Thompson are happy to help, knowing the school is doing its part to make a difference.

“I’m just thankful for the people that do get the food,” said Stevenson.

“At first when I heard about it, it made me feel sad,” said Thompson. “But then when I heard that we were able to do it (grow produce), it made me feel really joyful.”

Principal Burnett said there are usually 20 garden beds. Each class plans out their harvest for the season and does all the work from start to finish.

Students are even using their science, technology, engineering, arts and math or STEAM skills as part of the project.

Through their steam program, students at new mountain hill students are engaged in empathy-driven projects, including the cultivation of fresh vegetables.

“We use science to know who much the temperature will be,” said Thompson.

“Planting to engineering, to building the beds,” said Burnett.

As students get ready to clean out their garden beds and plant their fall harvest, they need your help as it can be costly.

“This year we decided to do an adopt-a- bed project,” said Burnett. “Anyone can donate any amount, but we have certain levels that someone can donate at.”

Individuals or businesses provide essential supplies such as soil, plants, and nutrients. Various sponsorship levels are available to accommodate diverse contributions:

Seed Level: $20 or more - Acknowledgment in the yearbook.

Sprout Level: $50 or more - Recognition in the yearbook and a shared garden plaque.

Garden Level: $100 or more - Mention in the yearbook and an individual plaque.

Harvester Level: $250 or more - Yearbook recognition, individual plaque, garden entrance banner display, and social media coverage.

Contributions can be made in-kind or financially, and official donation receipts will be provided to all contributors.

The project is giving kids hands on skills while working toward a powerful goal.

“It’s humbling to know we can help someone in a way that they might get something that they don’t have otherwise,” said Burnett.

To participate in the campaign or learn more about the initiative, please contact Anita Wadley at (706) 323-1144 or via email at wadley-a@harris.k12.ga.us.

To learn about Focus Ministries, you can visit them here.