Hardy puts a new spin on summer feeding program for students

HARDY, AR (KAIT) - This is the third year for the Hardy Summer Meals program. Like anything else the costs to feed the kids is rising. This year partially as an economic move and partially to get kids more involved in the food they eat, they are growing vegetables at the Hardy City Hall.

"I think that's really good that we are going to get to eat them out of the garden, the vegetables." Chloe Thornton told me as we stood outside in the garden.

Inside the Hardy City Hall, the preparations for lunch were well underway in the kitchen, as lunch time approached.

Besides chicken, there was a vegetable medley also served on a stick. Vegetables grown right there at city hall.

Site Supervisor Carolyn Groves was spearing small veggies on bamboo skewers. "We've been trying to gather it when it's small because you know little guys like little things."

This is the second year to serve meals at city hall. They have a certified kitchen and tables sit where normally the town council meets. The meals are offered free to kids from 18 and under.

This year Groves wanted to do something a little different.

"This year because of food costs, I talked to Ms. Nina about having a garden." Groves said. Nina Thornton the Mayor of Hardy agreed and the wheels were put into motion.

Along side city hall, the veggies are growing like...veggies.

The garden was paid for by a grant from Wal-Mart. There are 8 raised beds plus some old tires that grow parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and a little dill and mint.

Groves said she believes in kids growing their own food by helping in the gardens. The mayor's grand-daughter Chloe Anne Thornton demonstrated her weeding prowess. She has been helping her grandmother since day 1.

Chloe, "I helped her plant the garden and I helped her water the garden. We came up every day and watered the garden together."

Other kids helped out as well as several city employees who volunteered time to make the beds and put in the irrigation.

Now the veggies are being harvested and served up.

Groves said this garden saves them money.

"With the cost of our meat and our milk this year, if we didn't have our vegetables it would hurt us." Groves said.

Of course some kids do not like veggies. Grove says the perfect solution to picky eaters is to get them involved in the growing or preparing and then...

"You'll be able to get a child to eat anything if you give them some peanut butter or ranch dressing."

I tried the ranch, probably tasted better than peanut butter on onions.

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