One in three Eastern Kentucky children will experience hunger in the near future, according to a Feeding America Survey.
In order to get on top of a rising issue, Save the Children and AgTech leader AppHarvest have partnered to help educate eastern Kentucky families how to grow their own nutritious food and the importance of healthy eating.
“We want to make sure everyone is aware of the effects COVID-19 is having on our children...It is alarming what is happening, and child hunger is on the rise,” said Alissa Taylor, director of Kentucky Save the Children. “We need to come up with new and creative ways to address long term security issues. Sustainable growth has been a lost art and we have tried to find a way to bring this back and address food insecurity.”
On Tuesday, the Kentucky office for Save the Children — located in Berea — announced the Grow Green Eat Green Project, which helps create and provide indoor, hydroponic grow kits to more than 1,600 kids and families in eastern Kentucky counties.
“AppHarvest was founded as a benefit corporation and is also a certified B Corp, because we believe companies should be in the business of doing good,” said Amy Samples, director of Community Outreach and People Programs said in the release. “We’re building America’s AgTech capital from within Appalachia and know that education is core to achieving that.”
Participating children – who live in some of the state’s most impoverished counties, including Floyd, Harlan, Knott, Leslie, Owsley and Perry – are receiving everything they need to help start their own indoor gardens, such as seeds, growing nutrients and supplies, pots and instructions to help them get growing, the release noted. Students can also get live instruction via video conference on how to grow their own food from AppHarvest’s farming experts, as well as learn the benefits of hydroponic farming.
“This is planting that seed of interest in what possibilities there are for sustainable growth,” Taylor told The Register.
She explained, Save the Children reached out to school systems within the six counties and the fourth-grade teachers who have an existing plant-life lesson plan in their curriculum.
From there, those school boards who committed had the hydroponic kits distributed to their offices and then allowed pickup or porch drop-off for students.
“This is a win-win for students and teachers because it incorporates hands-on-learning materials and it is something fun and interesting,” Taylor said.
In addition, the AppHarvest videos not only teach children how to grow and take care of their at-home crops, but also gives instruction on cooking with the fruits and vegetables they produce.
“What we want to do is get them interested and see it is possible to grow food they can eat by themselves,” she said.
Taylor said she only hopes the program can expand to other county schools as the 1,600 kits are just a part of a first phase.
“We are very hopeful to get to phase two,” Taylor shared.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6695 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.