by Stephen Dafoe

Morinville Community High School (MCHS) was the recipient of two cheques from Morinville Sobeys last week. Store owners Shaun and Susie Thompson presented the school with a cheque for $529.23 for the school’s Urban Agriculture program, and one for $1226.38 for the school’s HOWLS (Honour, Ownership, Welcoming, Leadership and Safety) program.
Franchise owner Shaun Thompson said they were happy to work with the schools and happy to help with the work being done there.

sobeys2“It’s just making sure we are supporting the community, and it’s a unique program where we can take the products that they are growing here and sell them within our store,” he said. “People in Morinville can try them. I think it is something we will continue to do … for as long as the program is running.”

Co-owner Susie Thompson added she looks forward to the day her children are involved n the school’s Urban Agriculture program and will have the opportunity to see the process from the school and store side.

Thursday’s cheque presentation was a combination of revenues generated from herbs and other products MCHS students grow and sell at the local grocery store, as well as a 10 per cent rebate on all purchases MCHS makes at the store. “Instead of giving them 10 per cent off right then, we cut them a cheque so they can use that money towards any program they want,” Shaun Thompson said. “They chose HOWLS. It’s a great program. It’s great to recognize all those students.”

MCHS Principal Todd Eistetter said the donation would help both the school’s hot lunch program and HOWLS initiative. “We have a lot of students that can benefit from this, either because they can’t afford or prepare their lunch, or the ones we are recognizing [through HOWLS] for being good citizens in our school and our community,” he said. “This is very important to us.”

Eistetter was also pleased to see the continuation of Sobeys’ connection to the school’s Urban Agriculture program. “This is a great connection to allow our students to have the opportunity to work within the community for the ‘fruits of their labour’ to be consumed by the people in the town,” he said. “It’s a neat opportunity because our kids can see the process, the growing and preparation. It’s a neat farm-to-table process.”

MCHS Urban Agriculture teacher Neil Korotash said he’s pleased with the partnership between his students and Morinville Sobeys.

“It’s nice for the students to be able to do something authentic, grow stuff in the classroom and sell it at Sobeys,” Korotash said. “It’s a little bit about business and a little bit about growing. It’s a little bit about horticulture, and it gives a little bit of exposure to the program in the store. Based on what I hear from the produce folks at the store, people like it. They want it.”

Korotash said Urban Agriculture students are connecting with the Ark of Taste program this year, a program run by Slow Food Canada and registers significant foods for particular areas around the world. “We’re looking at getting students to work with First Nations people in the area to look at some foods that are unique to this area, and hopefully get some more foods registered for Alberta.”

This week Korotash’s students will be spending their afternoons at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre learning how to butcher a pig and process it into various cuts.

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