Summer Civic Engagement Corps Program Explores Food Insecurity & Urban Farming

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As part of the Park Summer Civic Engagement Corps program, 15 Upper School students contributed their time and energy to a number of hands-on service projects in the Baltimore community, and were able to build an understanding of the ways organizations work to address the needs of residents. Participants worked with their peers and Park staff on projects that met the specific needs of each organization. On-site experiences were complemented by discussion and quiet reflection, allowing students to place their work within a larger context. 

Director of Civic Engagement and Service Learning Rommel Loria led the program, which was divided into two one-week sessions focusing on different organizations. The first week of the program included exploration of issues related to food insecurity and how organizations such as soup kitchens, outreach programs, and food pantries work to address them. Students volunteered at Helping Up Mission, Paul’s Place, and the Maryland Food Bank, experiencing food insecurity from different angles. At the Maryland Food Bank, students packaged prepared food—hundreds of pounds of chicken and potato soup—for families throughout Maryland, illustrating the scope of the problem and the hard work underway to meet the need.  

In the second week the group learned about urban farms in Baltimore and food issues facing the community, and worked on projects at farms throughout the city. They built cucumber trellises, removed dead plants, and helped with composting, planting, and weeding. At Boone Street Farm, Park teens collaborated with Youthworks teens on a project to help the farm promote its food sales, which was a great opportunity to interact with other members of the community. Additional locations included Rockrose City Farm and Garden, Hidden Harvest Farm, Real Food Farm, and Charm City Farms.

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