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Great Health Divide: ‘Good Food Project’ teaching kids how to grow own produce, be self-sufficient

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 6:15 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - It’s no secret, produce can be hard to come by, and hunger is a huge issue here in Central Louisiana. However, one program in Alexandria is teaching kids how to grow their own produce to alleviate some of these problems.

“One morning I come in to pick up my food box because I am a client at the food bank and I spoke with Ms. Frances on volunteering,” said Rhonda Lair, Food Bank Recipient and ‘Good Food Project’ Community Garden Coordinator.

Rhonda is a walking success story of the ‘Good Food Project.’

“It (the ‘Good Food Project’) is very important to me personally because I have a garden at home and I have three grandkids. They also come out and help me garden, they help me harvest, they help me water, they also have their own plant they take care of and they love it every day,” said Lair.

Nestled away on Baldwin Avenue, across from the ‘Food Bank of Central Louisiana,’ lies a hidden gem right here in our community, where students, adults and virtually everyone can learn about gardening.

“They’re going to develop a lifelong love of growing their own food and also have access to fresh, healthy food,” said Frances Boudreaux, Director of the ‘Good Food Project.’

The project, which is a program of the food bank, teaches kids how to grow their own produce and be self-sustainable.

“Kids will eat healthy if you introduce it to them,” Boudreaux. “If you let them participate in the preparation of it, if you present it in a way that’s fun for them. We can show kids, okay you’re not sure what this vegetable is, okay well here it is, we’ll make a slaw, or you’re not sure about broccoli, we’ll do something fun with that.”

The small team of three walks the demonstration garden, plants, harvests and even makes school visits all with one goal in mind: getting kids to enjoy eating healthy.

“At the beginning, we would offer healthy snacks and some of the kids were a little resistant. But now it’s almost like well what did you guys bring today, and what are we going to try new today,” said Kennon Goff, School Health and Fitness Coordinator.

They install small gardens, teaching kids gardening can be easy and affordable.

“You don’t have to have a lot of money to grow food. You can grow food in a small pot that you’ve got from the dollar store. Anywhere can be a place to produce food if you’re given the opportunity to do that,” said Boudreaux.

Boudreaux says teaching kids about food can also go a long way in stopping serious health problems here in Central Louisiana.

“We can eliminate those health disparities like diabetes and hypertension and heart disease,” Boudreaux said. “We can make a difference in the health and the access to fresh food and to alleviate hunger, which is the main mission of the food bank.”

The goal is to change the habits of our younger generation and teach them how to be self-sustainable in a fun way.

“It is hard, I never lie about that. It is hard work but it’s fun, it’s rewarding, and I know that the more kids that we can touch with this, the more kids that can be affected in a positive way,” said Goff.

All the food grown at the demonstration garden goes directly to a good cause.

“If we’ve got okra and tomatoes today, then we take them over and they’re handed out or distributed by food bank employees,” said Boudreaux.

If you’re a school or other organization that would like a small garden, you can reach out to the ‘Good Food Project’ directly at 318-445-2773.

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