After the schools in West Feliciana Parish closed mid-March due to the pandemic, Layne Langley, Area Nutrition Agent with the LSU AgCenter, who teaches nutrition and school gardens through Play 60 at Bains Lower Elementary contacted Play 60 Coach, Lanya Mayer to discuss harvesting the vegetables. At the start of the school year, Mayer and Langley met to decide what the students would plant this school year. Mayer mentioned she wanted to make an ABC Garden where everything the students planted could be used in an ABC vegetable soup. Then began monthly nutrition and school garden programs with all kindergarten and first graders at Bains Lower Elementary. Langley taught the students about the five food groups of the MyPlate. She and Mayer guided the children in planting radish, turnips, English peas, and green onions. In October, the students planted carrots.
Due to the unforeseen school closures, harvesting the produce became a concern. Since Mayer and Langley didn’t want the produce to go to waste, Mayer suggested donating the harvest to the West Feliciana Parish Food Pantry. They both thought the food pantry could share the produce with their clientele. On Monday, May 4, Mayer and her college-age son, Ashton Verdicanno, harvested the carrots at Bains Lower Elementary. After leaving the school, she made a stop at the local grocery store where she ran into a few of her students and parents of her students and shared some of the carrots with them.
Mayer reached out to Bettye Martin at the West Feliciana Parish Food Pantry to offer the carrots. Since Wednesdays are “produce days” at the pantry, the date was set. Wednesday, May 6 was a bittersweet day for both Mayer and Langley. Although they were unable to watch 350 children harvest the carrots and see their reactions, they both knew that sharing the harvest with the citizens of West Feliciana Parish would be greatly appreciated. Mayer and Langley were touched to hear how excited the pantry volunteers were to get the carrots.
The West Feliciana Food Pantry serves 375 client families seeing each family once every two months. Each family receives a “banana” box of non-perishables and a box of miscellaneous items like juice, fresh produce, canned meat, nuts, extra lentils, rice, crackers, powered milk, eggs, bread, etc. They are open the first and third Thursday of each month for distribution. The food pantry could not serve who it does without the help of volunteers. They like giving to the community and working with each other.
For more information about the nutrition and school garden programs at Bains Lower Elementary, contact Layne Langley at 225-635-3614 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Over 300 carrots were harvested from the school gardens at Bains Lower Elementary.
Bettye Martin with the West Feliciana Parish Food Pantry (left) accepts the carrots from LSU AgCenter Area Nutrition Agent, Layne Langley (middle) and Play 60 Coach Lanya Mayer (right).
Mason Cannon, a first grader at Bains Lower Elementary, tries a fresh carrot she helped grow.
Students in Mrs. Brooks’ first grade class plant carrot seeds.
First graders in Mrs. Viguerie’s class enjoy planting carrot seeds.
Lanya Mayer, Play 60 Coach, shows off some of the carrots harvested from the school gardens at Bains Lower Elementary.
Excited to try the carrots he helped grow is Douglas Linwood Kendrick IV, a first grader in Mrs. Grissett’s class.