Clark FFA to grow produce for school lunches

One in six Kentuckians struggles with hunger, and Clark County is as heavily affected as any part of the state.

The Clark County FFA chapter is addressing local food insecurity, thanks in part to a $1,000 grant from the Kentucky FFA Foundation.

Students, led by their FFA advisors and agriculture teachers, will use grant funds to grow broccoli and cauliflower that they will donate to the school’s summer lunch program.

They will use an area at the school that was recently filled in with topsoil from the construction of the new school gym and football stadium.

The Clark County Cooperative Extension Service will partner with the FFA chapter to help students with the technical aspects of raising a large vegetable crop.

The Better Days Through Better Ways grant is a state-wide project that provides funding for FFA chapters to develop and implement sustainable, local programs that address hunger. FFA chapters can apply each year for a $1,000 grant to either start a project or expand an existing one.

“FFA members are uniquely positioned to address hunger because they are learning valuable life skills, like how to produce food, but also they understand their community’s needs, because they are the community,” said Sheldon McKinney, executive director of the Kentucky FFA Foundation.

“This project teaches them several things,” she said. “First, they learn about growing their own food and how to be a producer in the food chain. They learn about how to build community partnerships and relationships that make a difference. They also learn about the needs of the community, hunger, and how we can all do our part to make a difference.”

The Better Days Through Better Ways grants are funded by the Mulhollem Cravens Foundation through a partnership with the Kentucky FFA Foundation. Since 2014, Mulhollem Cravens has given $60,000 to fund 60 Better Days Through Better Ways projects across the state.

“Contributing to food needs is the central goal,” said Valerie Cravens, “but how much is learned in the process is just as important. The students should gain skills in any or all of the areas of communication, marketing, production or management.”

The Kentucky FFA Foundation cultivates partnerships which support the FFA vision to grow leaders, build communities,and strengthen agriculture. Kentucky FFA Foundation initiatives impact more than 14,500 FFA members in 154 FFA chapters across Kentucky.