It is time to feed the chickens and move their pens to greener grass.
"We are moving the chicken beds so they don't have to lay in their poop and pee, so they can have new bedding. And we are feeding them for the weekend," said Emma Franklin of Bridport.
Emma is not a farmer; she is a camper at the MiddSummer Lunch and Recreation program in Middlebury. About 30 kids from the Middlebury area participate in each of the five weeks. A big part of what they learn revolves around food and nutrition. These campers are tending to the chickens at the Hannaford Career Center.
"It's kind of like the whole farm-to-plate movement in Vermont. We really want students to learn where their food comes from. A Chicken McNugget does not grow up in McDonald's, it was at one point a chicken in a field," said Lynn Coale, the director of the Patricia Hannaford Career Center.
MiddSummer Lunch and Recreation was started 10 years ago by a group of community members in Middlebury who saw a need to address the issue of children being hungry in the summer. Diane Mincher is part of that program.
"Kids go hungry during the summer when they are used to getting meals at school during the school year. So, it's great to have the summer program," said Diane Mincher of MiddSummer Lunch and Recreation.
Half the 30 kids who attend each week receive free or reduced meals during the school year. Camp is free for them. The rest pay on a sliding scale, which costs about $120 a week.
Not only do the campers help raise poultry, but they are also planting and will be tending to their own vegetable gardens.
"All the produce that we plant in that garden and that one too, this one will be harvested in the summer, so it will be the ones that these campers use will go into our cafeteria and be used in the summer program for our lunches and snacks and that sort of thing," said Jenny Johnson, the director of the camp.
At the end of the five weeks of camp, some of these chickens will be the main course at a cookout. Emma is not sad; she says it gives her a new way to look at her food.
"Now I am going to appreciate when I am eating pork, meat or beef or something, I will appreciate that person who was raising that food," she said.
And that is exactly the point. Drawing the connection between nutrition, food, exercise and a healthy diet all under the umbrella of summer camp.
The camp serves children entering grades 4-7. For more information on the MiddSummer Lunch & Rec Program call 802-388-4969.
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