MANTACHIE • Students at Mantachie Attendance Center will get their hands dirty thanks to a statewide grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi.
Mantachie was one of 13 schools across the state to receive the organization's School Garden Program grant in 2021. The grant program enables students at the recipient schools to enjoy some hands-on learning through gardening.
The grant totaled $16,436 and enabled the school to purchase plants and other supplies for their edible garden such as children’s gloves, hand tools and a shed, as well as a hydroponic garden.
Through the grant, the school also purchased a mobile kitchen designed to teach food prep and cooking in a creative and fun way and allows the use of culinary arts to teach core educational concepts. Teachers will be able to use the hydroponic gardens in the classroom as a teaching tool.
Hydroponic gardens are water-based gardens that use no soil to grow plants. Necessary nutrients are delivered through the water. This method allows for plants to grow indoors year round and take up less space than traditional soil planting requires. Teachers prepared and harvested the beds with help from the community, and the ag shop has volunteered to help with the upkeep.
Alice Griggs, who wrote the grant application for Mantachie Attendance Center, said the community has researched and donated supplies and resources that will help teach different recipes using the Kitchen a la carte to students. Because of the grant, students in Mantachie are bettering their understanding of principles taught in the classroom and are also developing skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
“The edible garden and Kitchen a la carte have brought learning to life and have helped develop math, reading, and team building skills," Griggs said.
The TEAM in TEAM Adventure stands for technology, environmental, application methods. The activity involves community building, environmental science and STEM (science, technology engineering and math) activities. Each K-6 student takes part in these activities once a week. Students recently made suckers during an activity completed using the Kitchen a la carte. Students moved matter from liquid to solid then back to liquid while learning how the process happened.
“The Blue Cross Blue Shield grant funded resources that allow the students to develop a culture of health and wellness by increasing health literacy,” Griggs said. ”It has increased students' knowledge of growing vegetables and fruits and healthy eating by incorporating the garden into the school curriculum.”
Students have also improved their understanding of conversion methods when they put the lessons they learned into practice making French fries and cookies.
Fairview Attendance Center previously received a grant through the program.