Food literacy key lesson of Ag Day in St. James Parish

Johnny Morgan  |  4/25/2017 8:43:49 PM

(04/25/17) GRAMERCY, La. – Nearly 1,200 students from area schools learned about healthy foods and where they come from during Ag Day at the Fast Food Farm in St. James Parish on April 19.

Denise Hymel, executive director of the Fast Food Farm, said this is the 12th year the interactive program has been held to help educate Kindergarten through third grade students on the importance of agriculture.

“The St. James Parish Ag Day gives the students of the parish the opportunity to experience interactive activities, which will help educate them on the importance of agriculture in their daily lives,” she said. “We have animals for touching and viewing, aquaculture and interactive displays from several agencies. There will be approximately 34 booths for the children to explore.”

At the various booths, the students were able to not only watch where their food comes from but also get hands-on experience with planting seeds and identifying fruits and vegetables.

Jenny Williamson, a 4-H volunteer leader at Lutcher High School, helped students plant a seed and allowed them to take it home or back to school to watch it grow.

Sherri Morvant, first-grade teacher at Fifth Ward Elementary School, brought her students to reinforce what they had learned in class.

“Some of my students when asked where pork comes from still say McDonalds after being told numerous times that it comes from pigs,” Morvant said.

Two Ag Days are held each year, said LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Ken Guidry. “The fall event is held for third- and fourth-grade students, and the second event is held in the spring for kindergarteners through second-grade students.

“Since the third-grade students couldn’t make it in the fall, they are here today. That means there are about 400 more students than normal,” he said.

Patrick Tuck, executive director of the Louisiana 4-H Foundation, said the Capital Area United Way partly funded the event this year.

“The Capital Area United Way has awarded the Louisiana 4-H organization a three-year, $75,000 grant to help fund four parish 4-H Seeds of Service school and community gardens,” he said. “This year, the Fast Food Farm is one of the gardens and is also chosen as the site that was visited by United Way staff and volunteers.”

Ag Day is a collaborative effort of the Fast Food Farm board of directors, corporate sponsor Mosaic Louisiana operations, the St. James Public School System, the St. James Extension Service, 4-H clubs of St. James, Pro Start classes and agriculture classes at the Career and Technology Center, and other local businesses and industry partners.

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Students from Sherri Morvant’s first grade class at Fifth Ward Elementary School in St. James Parish learn where their food comes from during Ag Day at the Fast Food Farm in Gramercy on April 19. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

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Jenny Williamson, right, a 4-H volunteer leader at Lutcher High School, adds water to soil and seeds the students get to take home or back to class to watch them grow from Ag Day at the Fast Food Farm in Gramercy on April 19. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

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Students from St. James Parish get a lesson in making salsa during Ag Day at the Fast Food Farm in Gramercy on April 19. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

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