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St. Thomas the Apostle, Merit Learning Center students harvest potatoes for Seed-to-Feed program

Field trips don’t get much more hands-on than this. 

About 125 middle school students from  St. Thomas the Apostle traveled to Syracuse Wednesday, Oct. 8, to participate in the Seed-to-Feed program, which allows all the potatoes harvested from a donated field to go to the Food Bank of Elkhart County. This is St. Thomas’s third year participating in the program, which is run by Church Community Services.

“They love it, they love giving back. We explain to them that when you open the cupboard and there’s nothing to eat, for some people that’s every day, people go through that,” said Beth Camp, an eighth-grade teacher at St. Thomas. ”They learn to appreciate what they have. 

Students from Merit Learning Center, an alternative high school in Goshen, as well as the Boys & Girls Club of Middlebury and the Waterford Mennonite Youth Ministry also pitched in helping hands. 

Natasha Weisenbeck, the Seed to Feed co-coordinator, said the school groups clearly enjoyed themselves and were responsible for much of the work accomplished. Together, the students and other volunteers from the community collected 42,424 pounds of potatoes for the food bank.

This year, weather prevented the first day of harvesting, which was scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 7, so Weisenbeck and her volunteers had just one day to bring in as many potatoes as possible.

Although Weisenbeck told Flavor 574’s Lydia Sheaks she hoped to match last year’s total of 64,365 pounds of potatoes, the lost day of work made it difficult to reach that goal.

”Especially with the larger groups, there’s a lot of learning moments. It was really great to see them go out and play and also do good work,” Weisenbeck said. “I’ve been working with Merit Learning Center for a month, and at this point I know a lot of the kids, and it’s been great to see how willing they are to work.”

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