LIMA — Fifth graders at Heir Force Community School will be getting a new class pet soon — a carrot-making fish.
“I had a couple of students that wanted to go beyond. We were talking about community needs and how so many families need food,” Vickie Shurelds, English teacher, said. “The students said ‘we should find out a way to help them have food.’”
Their solution was a hydroponics set-up that used the droppings of fish to provide nutrients for a number of plants situated on the top of the fish tank. The final result is expected be a cheap, easy and urban way to provide healthy food.
The fish provide nutrients to the plants, and the plants provide the food.
And to get the fifth graders Alan Miehls and Isaac Grundisch started, the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation provided a $400 youth grant.
“It’s just way more fun to experiment with the water,” Grundisch said.
The fifth graders are two of just 114 students who received similar $400 grants from Sodexo, which funded the initiative to get young students to “educate and mobilize their peers around the issue to help end childhood hunger.”
In line with the initiative, Heir Community School also held a food giveaway Friday afternoon during Global Youth Service Day that acted as a kick-off to the indoor-gardening project.
As other school students went through life Friday, their fifth grade peers were stacking food and making sure enough food was available for those going through line.
While the fish food tank has yet to be assembled, the class will be moving forward with the project sometime next week. By the end of their experiment, Miehls said he would like to be able to grow enough food — primarily greens, tomatoes and carrots — to be able to provide a meal for all 100 students of the Heir Force Community School. If the group can prove of its effectiveness, the two can help other families with a similar set-up.
“If things get really bad, they can always have a salad,” Shurelds said.
“It’s our responsibility to the kids to understand community issues and their neighborhood,” said Dr. Willie Higgens, director of the Heir Force Community School. “To see fifth graders inspired and enthusiastic about food scarcity shows what we’re trying to do, which is ultimately to promote community stewardship.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.