Students and teachers from Ecole Boreale got their hands dirty with the RCMP on June 18 by planting potatoes in the Soup Kitchen’s plot at the Hay River Community Gardens.
“We do all kinds of projects to raise awareness for hunger in Third World countries,” said Grade 3-4 teacher Jessica Gilbert. “But it’s just as important the kids understand the issues are present close to home, as well.”
The Soup Kitchen provides meals for the less fortunate in Hay River, but receives no core funding, relying instead on the generosity of the community and dedicated volunteers.
RCMP Special Const. Steve Beck initiated an outreach program last year in which local police officers partnered with schools to help provide food for the organization, but also to give kids a chance to get involved in helping their community.
“Food is such a basic need,” Gilbert said. “It really comes before anything else, along with shelter and basic safety. So if everyone does their part, we will end up with something great that can really help people.”
Cpl. Scott Young was on hand to help pass out seed potatoes, while Beck, Gilbert and another teacher dug the holes for the students to plant them.
Young was pleased to see all the kids out helping.
“This is our way of giving back to the community,” he said. “Especially to those people who need it most.”
Young said potato-planting is a great way to get children involved and make a real difference at the same time, as the crop is relatively low maintenance and will be a major part of the Soup Kitchen’s offering in the fall after they are harvested. This is the second year the RCMP has partnered with schools to help the community organization, though Young credits Beck with the idea as well as implementation.
“All the kids love it,” said Young. “It gives them a sense of helping their community and that’s great to see.”
As for the planters themselves, they were pleased to be missing school to be outside on a sunny morning, despite the bugs descending on them. While some students had experience with gardening, it was a meaningful introduction to others.
“We have (a garden) at home in front of our house,” said Shayla Moore. “We just planted it this weekend.”
But for her classmate Kalista Montgommery, the experience was new and encouraged her to start her own vegetable garden.
“I think this is an important thing to do,” she said. “We don’t have a garden at home now, but now I want to make one. I’m having a really good time.”
While having fun was, of course, a priority, Gilbert said it wasn’t the only reason the classes spent the morning gardening.
“It’s so important to raise our kids to be active in their community,” she said. “When you show them how to do it young, the chances of them continuing when they grow up go up.”
— Sarah Ladik