Little Food Pantries and raised gardens will help the community fight hunger.
Jackson County 4-H Junior Leaders Sydney Loudermilk, Taylor Loudermilk and Kirsten Raisor — all Brownstown Central High School students — have organized a community build day, giving the public an opportunity to help them build at least five Little Food Pantries and five raised gardens.
Once they are constructed, the food pantries will be placed in areas that don’t have easy access to a large food pantry, and the raised gardens will be available for community members in need to take home at the end of the Jackson County Fair, which runs July 21 through 27 at the fairgrounds in Brownstown.
From 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday, people can come and go as they wish at the fairgrounds near the 4-H building. Participants will be able to cut wood to size using a template provided, paint the cut wood pieces and if time allows assemble the wood pieces into Little Food Pantries, which are similar to Little Free Libraries but are for food instead of books. There also will be opportunities to assist in the construction of raised gardens.
Volunteers of all ages are welcome. Jobs will be assigned based on age and skill. People are encouraged to bring their own tools for everyone to use.
If you can’t be there to help build, you can contribute to the canned food drive boxes at 4-H project check-in or donate canned food in the 4-H building during fair week. The Little Food Pantries and raised gardens constructed Thursday will be on display outside the 4-H building during the fair.
This is part of a new project for the 2020 Jackson County 4-H program year called Hunger Elimination Leadership Program, or H.E.L.P. It was founded by the Loudermilk siblings and Raisor.
From April 11 through 15 at Heifer International’s Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas, the three girls experienced firsthand what it would be like to live in a poverty-stricken area.
Heifer International is a nonprofit organization that sends pregnant heifers to third-world countries. The community gives the first cow born of that heifer to another community in need, and it’s like the gift that keeps on giving, said Sydney Loudermilk, a Brownstown Central senior.
The organization sets up the camp and recreates a village in a third-world country.
“There are different huts that represent the slums you would find in different countries,” Sydney said. “They split the youth up into teams, and it was completely random, and then they would have to sleep in those slums overnight.”
The people in each hut were given materials, and there wasn’t enough food for the village to survive.
“You had to trade with other people so that everybody got to eat, but we weren’t given a lot,” Sydney said. “One group was given two carrots and an onion, and another group was given a cup of rice, and somebody was given fake milk blocks because each community had a baby that they had to keep alive. They had to trade for one block of milk to keep the baby alive.”
Sydney said there wasn’t enough food to feed everybody that night and the following morning.
“Some people went without eating, and it was pouring down rain and freezing the entire time, so everybody was soaked, all of our stuff was soaked,” she said.
Along with learning what it’s like to live in poverty, Sydney said they participated in activities to demonstrate that it’s OK to ask for help.
“A lot of people have a difficult time asking for help, but it’s OK to need to ask for help from somebody around you,” she said.
That’s how they came up with the name of their new project, H.E.L.P.
“The three of us were inspired by the camp and what we learned, and we wanted to do something to fight hunger in our own community,” Sydney said.
Their goal is to inspire youth to make a difference in their community through the new project for years to come.
“The youth participants of 4-H are outstanding representatives of the community, and they are the perfect ones to be helping spread this because three people can’t solve the problem by themselves. But with the help of hundreds in the community, we can make a lasting impact,” Sydney said.
“We’re trying to get the community involved because this is a community service project,” she said. “Also, all of these things will be going out to the community, so the Little Food Pantries that we build will be placed around Jackson County. So by volunteering, you’re really doing something for the community because somebody will take food out of that food pantry that will get their family through the night.”
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What: Community build day to construct Little Food Pantries and raised gardens
When: 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Near the 4-H building at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Brownstown
Who: 4-H’ers Sydney Loudermilk, Taylor Loudermilk and Kirsten Raisor founded the Hunger Elimination Leadership Program and are asking volunteers of all ages to help build
Information: Call 812-358-6101 to let them know you are coming to help