LaFayette Sun News

Earth Day celebrated at Health Center

AU Students hold a ribbon cutting for new food pantries.
Volunteers build a community garden to celebrate Earth Day.

By John Brice

Volunteers from a variety of local organizations gathered at the Chambers County Health and Wellness Center to celebrate Earth Day during the morning hours of Saturday, April 20th of 2024. Alabama Cooperative Extension System Coordinator for Chambers County Rachel Snoddy was joined by OnMed Customer Service Director Michelle Morgan to welcome attendees as they gathered in the back of the building to set up tables and tents providing information on health services which are offered in the local area.
In an online flier posted to the official facebook page for the center it stated “Join Chambers County Community Health and Wellness Center for an Earth and Wellness Day. Enjoy planting in a community garden, participating in exercise and cooking classes and learning about different health resources in the community!”
Representatives from the Auburn University Psychological Services Center, Neurovascular Physiology Center and Rape Counselors of East Alabama were all on hand to participate in the day’s activities and inform the public on the services which their organizations offer. Cinder blocks were arranged in two square shapes and filled with planting soil to form garden beds and large plastic bags filled with donated food sat atop tables waiting to be picked up by those in need.
Auburn University Student Jai Rodriguez helped organize the event and described it “We are planting a community garden and trying to get the community involved, get some food out to people. It’s an event for them to learn about our resources. We are going to do a small ribbon cutting for the food pantry opening, we are going to pass out bags, we are going to build gardens and have people come and plant in them. Earth Day is a day to spread awareness basically, to know that this is the earth and you need to take care of it.”
In another post to the center’s official facebook page it was stated “Exciting things happening at the center! We have planted a garden in the back of the building. The harvest will be available to pick up inside the center for free. We also had a ribbon cutting for our micro pantry, which is available for anyone to pick up free grocery items as needed in our lobby!”
Students from Inspire Academy have constructed two wooden food pantries to store donations, one of which will be placed inside the center and the other will be set up outside. To commemorate the new pantries, AU students Janie Greene, Jai Rodriguez and Chris Khalaf participated in a ribbon cutting where Khalaf remarked “I decided to do this project after doing some research about food insecurity in Chambers County. Feeding America estimates that approximately thirteen percent of Chambers County experiences food insecurity. Fifty-seven percent of the population are below the standard differential for poverty so I decided to do the food pantry as a way to mitigate food insecurity essentially. I know that this is not that big of a project but I just hoped to lessen the stress of the community with accessible food and nutrition.”

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