Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lettuce seeds

Lettuce seeds are tiny. Really tiny. Mere specks on the palm of your hand.

This is something that I think about every spring as I start to plant my salad greens. The delicious leaves of green and purplish red that grace our salads started out as tiny, almost insignificant specks.

While it takes fertile soil, a little water and daily care to make the salad garden thrive, one can still marvel at how it all started with a bunch minute seeds. (Yes, this is a picture of my garden taken just this morning).

My other thought is that you don't have to be an expert to plant these seeds. All it takes is the will to plant the garden.

This brings me to David Tichnell, a teacher at Holy Ghost Catholic School in Albuquerque, who decided he wanted to plant some seeds among student at Holy Ghost. He and other faculty members decided to involve pupils from kindergarten to eighth grade in a
program called Kids Against Hunger.

One of the main purposes of the program is to involve school children in a global feeding effort. The children raise money, helping in the packaging of commodities, and learn about the people and regions they are helping. "Knowing that everyone can have an impact, the Kids Against Hunger program has been created to give people an opportunity to have a hands-on experience in feeding the world," the organization says in its web site.

The school's efforts to raise consciousness about hunger among its students were featured in the Albuquerque Journal, in an article entitled, Youngsters Raise $9,000 for Kids Against Hunger.

The kids at Holy Ghost not only helped with packaging of rice, dried soy and dried vegetables into plastic bags for shipment to poor countries, but Tichnell and other faculty members used the occasion to have the kids in the school think about their lifestyles and how a few changes could go a long way in helping in the fight against hunger.

The children collected spare change--coins as well as dollars bills--and brought it to school in plastic jugs. The money probably came from their allowances.

"We asked them to rethink how they spent their money," Tichnell t
old the Albuquerque Journal. "We said, 'instead of buying that new CD, use that money to feed the hungry.' ''

During one lunch period, students were also exposed to a
Hunger Banquet, an excercise used by Oxfam and other organizations to illustrate the extreme inequities in distribution of food and resources at the global level.

Principal Noreen Duffy Copeland told the Albuquerque Journal that this was an effort to show the students at Holy Ghost what it like to be hungry when others have plenty to eat. A very small number of the 200 students (perhaps fewer than 10) were assigned to a table that featured grilled chicken, vegetables and ice cream. A few others were assigned to a table with rice and beans. The majority of the students ended up at an empty table.

The excercise appears to have worked. Many students who sat at the empty table were not happy about the situation. Perhaps this awareness planted a "lettuce seed" that will blossom into further action on behalf of the hungry in the world

The "lettuce seeds" also appear to have taken root in a positive form. "It gives us pride and respect for our teachers and our community to be able to do this," 14-year-old Katie-Jane Widner told the Albuquerque Journal.

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