The students in the backpack program qualify for free or reduced-price lunches; last year, 65 percent of Hazel Dell’s student body qualified.
Baird said the garden will be a “huge blessing.” She’s been unsuccessfully trying to secure an ongoing grocery store partnership.
“My goal is to expand the kids’ options for the weekend,” Baird said.
The garden started in 2004 as a way to teach the school’s students about where food comes from, but it was too big for the school to maintain, said Barbara Nordstrom, a master gardener.
Over the years, the garden has attracted programs and partnerships with several organizations. Prioritizing Hazel Dell’s students makes the garden “more intentional,” Bellomy said.
She and Nordstrom both worked at Hazel Dell Elementary School and are aware of its students’ needs. Bellomy was the counselor and Nordstrom the community volunteer coordinator.
Now, the pair lead classes on topics like soil, worms and pollinators. That’s in addition to gathering volunteers to help take care of the garden and grow produce for the backpack program. They’re trying to grow foods that can be harvested during the school year. When school is not in session, the food will be donated to Share or the Clark County Food Bank.