Carbon Hill students get delivery of fresh corn


CARBON HILL — The smell of sweet corn filled the lunchroom at Carbon Hill Elementary/Jr. High School Tuesday, and students had the opportunity to meet the farmer who grew it.

Deemed "Sweet Corn Day," around 60 students in the school's summer program were served corn from McKenzie Farm & Forest. Farmer Drake McKenzie oversees the Jasper corn farm.

McKenzie first visited the school weeks ago to teach first graders about farming and the process it takes to grow food before it is consumable. 

"It really brought it to life for them, because some of them had no idea (where their food comes from)," teacher Katie Heathcock said. 

McKenzie visited the school again Tuesday to teach the summer group of students how to shuck corn.

"I like to raise interest in ag. My full-time job is in forestry, so anything outdoors, I like to raise awareness of it," McKenzie said, adding, "It's healthy, too, for them to eat some vegetables instead of a bunch of sweet stuff." 

The Alabama Farm to School Program has allowed a number of farmers to supply food for the school's Break for a Plate summer meal programs. 

In addition to partnering with farmers, school interventionist Amy Atkins said other partnerships have enhanced the school's summer program.

Atkins said a partnership with the City of Carbon Hill, for example, has helped students learn to swim. Students in the summer program visit the city's pool twice a week. 

"On our first trip, we had them do a swim test, and we had several kids that could not swim," she said. "Just yesterday, I was bragging on kids, because those kids that couldn't swim at the beginning are now jumping off the diving board and doing flips."

Partnerships with SNAP-Ed and the Walker County Extension Office have also provided opportunities for students to learn about nutrition and gardening. 

"We're very lucky to have all the partnerships that we have," Atkins said. "We always have somebody coming in at least once a week." 

All schools in Walker County have similar partnerships and activities lined up in their summer programs as well.