Christine Hradek, extension nutrition and wellness specialist, wanted to do more than offer education on nutrition, cooking, and food budget management to Iowa's hungry. She wanted to make a more substantial difference in the lives of Iowa's food-insecure.
Food-insecurity is real in Iowa. One in eight Iowans lacks reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Hradek works as a specialist with Human Sciences Extension and Outreach coordinating Iowa State's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (
SNAP-Ed). Funded by the USDA, SNAP-Ed provides nutrition education to families with low incomes and recently moved beyond direct education to make healthy choices easier for families experiencing poverty.
Hradek is addressing this complex social issue with a multi-disciplinary network of ISU Extension and Outreach educators, staff, students, and volunteers. She forged powerful partnerships within the Department of Horticulture, adding resources from the Iowa Master Gardener program and ISU Research Farm home demonstration gardens. This team, joined by common goals, found a greater solution.
This summer 19 Master Gardener groups in 15 communities across Iowa are growing food for the purpose of donation to food pantries through a partnership with SNAP-Ed. The Master Gardeners are off and running after a little training and funding from SNAP-Ed on the basic principles of donation gardening, working with food pantries, and food safety.
Iowa State University Research Farms are using 2016 home demonstration gardens to create model donation gardens for community education and outreach as well as produce donation. The current hope is that the research farm gardens alone will yield more than 10,000 pounds of fresh produce for families experiencing poverty in Iowa. If this goal is reached it could amount to over 30,000 servings of vegetables for Iowans in need.
Did you know? SNAP-Ed and the
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Programare free programs that help parents provide nutritious food for their families. ISU Extension and Outreach has food and nutrition program assistants in 23 Iowa counties to deliver education.
Volunteers learn basic principles of donation gardening.
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