Troop 4771 wants to make a difference
Story by Krystan Krucki
In the wake of the 2020 Coronavirus-19 pandemic, with food flying off grocery store shelves but donations to food banks plummeting, a frightful uncertainty of where their family’s next meal is coming from affects more families than ever.
When considering the impact COVID-19 was having on their area, the idea of food insecurity was intolerable to Girl Scout Troop 4771, a Junior level troop from Grant, Michigan. Seeing a need in their hometown sparked a desire to make a difference.
“We come from a low income county and people might not have food because of COVID-19 and not being able to work,” said troop member Cristyann Hilden. “We wanted to be able to help others as soon as crops start to grow.”
Indeed, according to the latest US Census documentation, Michigan’s Newaygo County had a poverty rate of 15.6%, a number that is higher than the national average of 13.1%. The largest demographic living in poverty in Newaygo County are Females 45 - 54, followed by Females 25 - 34 and then Females 35 - 44. Food from any source, but particularly locally grown produce could be a help to many in their county, especially women.
To begin the fight against food insecurity while maintaining the government issued social distancing protocol in place at the time the troop utilized Messenger Kids, a safe messaging application from Facebook, and began educating themselves on what is involved with planting and growing food.
“As a troop I taught the girls about what kind of weather, climate and environment that we need to have to help these crops and plants grow,” said Troop Leader Roxanne Stay. “We also learned about the water cycle, plant nutrition and the various responsibilities that go into caring for a garden.”
As of April 2020, the troop has made progress with one troop member building a raised garden bed and another has rototilled a field with the help of her father. They are conducting research into local distributors who can sell seeds and plants, and hope to grow snap peas, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and flowers.
Troop member Faith Patin explained that they feel this project is important because the food they grow will be healthier than what people may buy in a store, will taste better and, at the end of the day, help people survive.
Troop member Amelia Stay says that since her school closed on March 16, 2020, her life has been changed by not being able to see extended family and friends, but understands that the shelter-in-place orders have a much greater impact on some.
“Some people are happy to spend time with loved ones, but others are having their routine disrupted, struggling with mental and physical problems and going hungry because of a lack of access to food,” she said.
Being able to participate in this project allows her to engage in one of her favorite parts of Girl Scouts, helping the community.
Servicing 33 counties in Western and Northern Michigan, Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore (GSMISTS) not only has an impact on girls, but on entire communities. They provide the support needed to encourage young girls to think big and make a difference. Girls like Amelia, Cristyann, Faith and their fellow troop members are a representation of all GSMISTS girls who use their intelligence and heart to make their community a better place.