GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) – More families are seeking refuge at shelters and need access to health services during the Coronavirus pandemic, and the Nebraska Extension is helping feed families with a garden of fresh produce.
“It’s part of our SNAP Ed Grant, so our supplemental nutrition assistance program education that we’re doing, and it’s just a way for us to reach those limited resource audiences,” said Ashlynn Maier, Nebraska Extension Nutrition Program Assistant.
This project also known as the Growing Together Nebraska Garden has been a source of nutrition in the Grand Island area for the last four years. The extension has donated fresh food to people at Hope Harbor and Third City Community Clinic.
“I have people that come every week that look forward to the food, and come in and get tomatoes, peppers, whatever there is here,” said Executive Director Kim Thompson, Third City Community Clinic.
Third City Clinic offers free health services for people without insurance. People can get medical help, and with the extension’s donation, fresh produce too.
“This way they don’t have to decide between paying for bills and paying for food,” Thompson said. “Sometimes they can keep their lights on or their gas for their car on, because there is free food for them.”
The clinic has seen an increase in people stopping by for food during the pandemic.
“We’ve seen a lot of people coming to us right now, because a lot of people aren’t working yet,” Thompson said.
The extension has been able to keep up with the demand, and feed more families this past harvest season.
“It’s just been a really great growing year, our tomatoes have done really well,” Maier said. “Last year they did not, it’s just the weather wasn’t right.”
Over the past three years the extension has donated about 7,900 pounds of food, but they’ve almost surpassed this number with 5,730 pounds this year alone. Each pound of of food donated was about three servings of vegetables.
“There’s a lot more people in need right now, and so to be able to donate more and to have an abundance from the garden, has been wonderful,” Maier said.
Program officials said it’s essential for people to have fruits and vegetables in their diets.
“Fruits and vegetables have a lot of nutritional value,” Maier said. “There’s vitamins and minerals in there that we need to keep our body functioning the way that it’s supposed to – when you don’t have access to the fruits and vegetables, that can really hurt your nutrition and hurt your diet.”
The Nebraska Extension provides healthy recipe resources to the nonprofits. It’s to help give families ideas on how to cook the food. People can find the recipes here.
Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.