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Mount Kisco Elementary Donates School-Grown Fresh Produce to Local Food Pantry

MKES students walk to food pantry

“Isn’t this amazing?” said Jennifer Wege, Garden Co-Chair for the Mount Kisco Elementary School Association and mom to first grade twins. “It’s so beautiful.” 

Wege had just made the just over quarter-mile trek from Mount Kisco Elementary School to the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry with the school’s second graders. Students carried baskets of vegetables, freshly picked from their garden, down the hill and up Main Street to donate to the pantry and give back to their community.

“Our families that come to the pantry will really, really appreciate all of this incredible fresh food,” the pantry’s director of operations Roberta Horowitz told students.

Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry serves about 400 local families each week, providing everything from fresh produce to canned goods, cereal, meat, milk, eggs, bread and more. Mount Kisco Elementary School has donated about 100 pounds of fresh produce to the pantry and students will continue harvesting and donating their bounty well into the fall. Wege estimates that when you add that to what they’ve given directly to students and community members, the students have grown and donated well over 300 pounds of fresh produce.

With students gathered inside the pantry, Horowitz, along with pantry volunteer and board member Sue Klein, described what families do when they come to collect food each week. In the process, they explained exactly how the food that the students planted and harvested has helped local families.

“It’s so impressive that our students have really made a difference for families,” said Assistant Principal Dr. Angelique Johnson, who joined the students on their trip.

After listening to Horowitz’s primer on the pantry, students had some thoughtful follow-up questions.

“What happens if the food is expired?”

“Why do you have so many canned goods?”

“How long have you been here?”

The garden has proven to be both rewarding and educational as students experience hands-on gardening, learn everything from how plants grow to where food comes from, and how to use all of that to help others. It has also been a great opportunity to introduce students to foods that may be new to them and to allow them to observe insects and their role in a garden.

“We have pollination happening with flowers, so the children are being exposed to monarch butterflies and bumblebees and caterpillars,” Wege said. “It is a wonderful outdoor learning space for them.”

Amy Fishkin, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, had a chance to visit the garden over the summer and was in awe of what she witnessed.

“Through the garden, students have the opportunity to learn about gardening, apply academic concepts to real-life experiences, and literally see the fruits of their labor,” she said. “The food is shared with the MKES community, where we have a large number of students on free and reduced lunch. Staff and parents have even provided cooking lessons to parents who are interested. The garden is a true gem of this special community school and the entire school community works together to bring this wonderful outdoor education program to our students.”

Students will continue working in the garden through November, when they’ll put it to bed for the winter.

“We are planting a fall garden, which students are currently working on now,” Wege said. “We are so grateful for the partnership and support of our community and school to have this amazing opportunity for our children to fully experience growing and giving back food.”

MKES second graders gather at the food pantryMKES second graders pose with donated produceMKES produce donation