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‘What better way to keep those seedlings growing?’: Tomato starts added to Logan menu

UPDATED: Tue., April 21, 2020

Hungry families picked up some hope along with an extra meal at Logan Elementary School on Tuesday morning.

It came in the form of tiny tomato starts, provided by the volunteers from Gonzaga University and its food provider.

Grown in GU’s hydroponic garden above the Hemmingson student center, they were placed in pots, covered in soil and given to students – partly as a celebration of Earth Week but also as another way to escape the dreariness of the coronavirus lockdown.

If the kids do their part, they’ll learn about botany and help feed their families: Each plant will yield about 25 pounds of tomatoes this year.

With Gonzaga also shut down for the foreseeable future, “We thought what better way to keep those seedlings growing,” said Lisa Ridgeway, marketing director for Zag Dining by Sodexo.

Along with volunteers from Spokane Public Schools, Ridgeway and others also donated food at Rogers High School, part of an expanded effort as the COVID-19 pandemic affects more families.

For more than a month, the district has handed out breakfast and lunch bags at more than two dozen sites. However, the need has deepened.

“There was such a need with the students getting food, parents were asking if there were any extras for them,” said Ridgeway, who said the effort has been funded partly by an anonymous GU alum.

With only 200 students on campus, Sodexo has a surplus of nutritious food and the personnel to deliver it. On Tuesday, they provided turkey chili mac and cheese, plus lettuce and tomatoes from the hydroponic garden.

For Sodexo employee Victoria Taskey, this was much more than a food drive.

A lifelong Spokane resident, she attended Whitman Elementary, Garry Middle School and Rogers High School before going on to Whitworth University.

“I understand the need, and there was definitely a need for my family and my friends,” said Taskey, who works in the hydroponic garden and had just delivered food at Rogers.

“Working at Gonzaga, this really is a chance to live the Jesuit values and give back to the community I love so dearly.”

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