Maine 5th Graders Upset After Onions Intended For A Homeless Shelter Are Stolen

Some Maine fifth-graders thought they were growing onions for the homeless and helping out their own school, but their plans were wrecked when all of the onions were stolen.

The fifth-graders at the Albert S. Hall School in Waterville, Maine, were learning about growing their own food, helping the homeless, and healthy eating. Last spring, the children planted 100 yellow onions to give half the onions to a homeless shelter and the rest to their own school kitchen to be used in school lunches, according to the Associated Press.

Unfortunately, the Maine students found out that someone had taken all of the onions when they went outside last week to harvest them, according to USA Today.

Mary Dunn told about the day the students found the onions missing.

"We looked at the onions and the tops were all dried. We said, 'Tuesday after Labor Day we'll harvest them,' and we went out Tuesday and they were all gone - the whole bed."
The Maine city school garden theft hit the students hard because they had been taking care of the garden all summer. Parents and children pitched in to weed and water the onions and other plants to ensure that the harvest would be plentiful and help their school and others in need.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, and potatoes are just a few other foods, other than the onions, that are planted and used in the school kitchen and other projects.

Onion Patch
Teacher Mary Dunn and some fifth-graders stand next to the onion patch where 100 onions were stolen.

Healthful eating is emphasized at the school, and the staff and teachers work hard to teach the children about it all year. The Maine school recently got a $1,000 Agriculture in the Classroom grant that pays for farmers to come to the school for Farm-to-School-Day next spring. This also allows the school to buy soil, seeds, and compost to plant more food.

One child from the class said that the fifth-graders were "very sad" about the stolen onions, especially because the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter will have to be without the onions now.

"I hope that the person that did it actually tells us because if they just came and old us, then they wouldn't be in trouble," the child said.

Dunn decided to take the theft and turn it into a lesson about mistakes as a part of life.

"We embrace mistakes, but if it's a m istake that hurts someon's feelings, we work to get the kids to own it," the veteran teacher in Maine said. "So if someone were to show up with some onions and say, 'I'm sorry,' that would be a huge lesson for these kids. That's hard to do. That's brave."

[Photo via Michael G. Seamans]