As cold weather and the holidays draw ever closer, the need for food stuffs at Faith in Action is set to increase drastically as it does every year.
But thanks to the efforts of the Dexter High School Rotary Interact Club, that need will be reduced by 200 pounds of nutrient packed potatoes.
The potatoes were planted and harvested by students Mitchell Houghtaling, Chris Seidleck, Ryann Scherdt, Rachel Clark, Noah Rosenzweig, Nick Grant, Zach Clark and Rebecca Clark. Stephanie Klawender and her family’s farm provide the usage of the land and care for the spuds between planting in the spring and harvest the following fall.
Houghtaling and Seidleck delivered the potatoes at 3 p.m. this past Wednesday, along with Interact Club Advisor and Dexter Community Schools English teacher John Heuser and Rotarian Brent Kolb.
The pair said while loading the club’s haul onto the tables at Faith in Action’s food bank that they enjoy the club for its size, which allows a greater level of input from each individual member on what the whole organization does as far as charitable activities are concerned.
“A lot of people like to join the club because it’s a smaller club and it allows us to concentrate on things that we really want to donate to and impact in a meaningful way,” Houghtaling said. “And with the potato harvest it’s good that we know where it’s going to go and we know that people from Dexter and the surrounding areas can come and appreciate what we do.”
Seidleck said he’s personally known folks in Dexter who have fallen upon hard enough times to experience food uncertainty.
“I know people who have been on tough times and knowing that those people have a place where they can go get food with reduced incomes is good to know — it’s good to know that they have this food available to them.”
Both young men say that their actions inspire others to give to Faith in Action, and they also hope that other high school students are encouraged to join the Interact Club so its members have more manpower to provide more assistance.
FIA Director Nancy Paul said that she particularly values youth initiatives that touch the organization that she’s passionately led for many years.
“It’s very important to have young people connect with a mission like this and it’s important to get them doing something hands-on, because once they do, they never forget it,” she said. “And this is the perfect kind of project for that, where the kids get to have input from the very beginning and get to see it through to the very end, and it’s real food on a real table.
“Kids are growing all the time and know hunger — they’re hungry an hour before dinnertime every night and wonder what’s going to be on the table, so to them it’s more real.”
Heuser highlighted the benefit of the program for the teens involved, who are able to experience the agricultural aspect of their community, which they might not have ever known otherwise.
Club members also recently chose the livestock they will purchase to provide to those in need in Africa through Save the Children.
“We do a lot of great things throughout the year that benefit people both locally and internationally,” Heuser said. “Either way it’s a great opportunity to spend time together and get to know each other.”
Kolb thanked the Klawender family for making this giving possible over these past five years, during which more than 1,000 pounds of potatoes have been donated.
“The Klawender’s provide the seed, the black tarps and get the garden ready by tilling up the soil, which allows us to do this at no cost and all the kids have to do is plant them and harvest them, although next year we might have them hill them during the summer as well.”
Correction: Initially Houghtaling was erroneously referred to as Seidleck, and Seidleck was mistakenly referred to as Scherdt. We apologize for the mistake, which has been corrected.