Planted by students...served to students

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Crops that were planted by local students are now being harvested and given to those who could really use them.

District 51 students were planting vegetables at the Colorado State University Western Colorado Research Center fields on Orchard Mesa. The food is now being donated to school lunchrooms and the food bank.

This week, interns with the Research Center harvested some of those vegetables.

“We come out here very early and work really hard,” said Amanda McQuade with the Colorado State University Western Colorado Research Center.

Young students planted tomatoes and cucumbers back in May. Those vegetables served as a lesson.

“We wanted to combine an education program on sustainable agriculture, with getting more fruits and vegetables into the food bank,” McQuade said.

Boxes of tomatoes and cucumbers were put on District 51’s Lunch Lizard.

“Our food is picked and delivered the same day and is used within a day at the schools so it’s very fresh,” McQuade said.

The Lunch Lizard helps to feed students who may not otherwise have a meal this summer. The partnership provides a healthy meal, to students in high poverty areas.

“I talk to them a lot and I get to know them and their families,” said Alysha Packard, who works on the Lunch Lizard and the Clifton Elementary lunchroom. “So I know how hard the struggle is and it's heartbreaking to hear they might be missing meals here or there."

The Lunch Lizard is ready to fill kids’ bellies, while getting them ready to learn. On Wednesday, the kids were served pizza with those freshly picked cucumbers and tomatoes.

“Fruits and veggies are super important,” Packard said. “They help with growth and brain development, and they have lots of vitamins and minerals."

While it all starts in the field, this partnership works to address county-wide hunger.

“There is an extra bonus in including school children in the process of growing and harvesting,” McQuade said.

This is a sustainable agriculture internship for the CSU Research Center. So far, they have donated 1.3 tons of food and are expecting that number to increase by quite a bit.

While some go to District 51, the rest is donated to the Food Bank of the Rockies.

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