In the heartland, hunger and food insecurity exist in urban and rural communities alike. And, because children of food insecure households are often not responsible for making primary food purchase decisions, they can be at greater risk for a variety of negative health outcomes.
Building on its community garden model in Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, The Big Garden Farm to School program installs edible school gardens and brings educators into the classroom to teach students to grow, cook and preserve their own food.
During the growing season, food produced in the school garden is used for snacks and distributed to families for use at home.
“Children living in poverty often feel they don’t have much control or agency over their life, but in the garden, they take enormous pride in growing their food and realize that there are parts of their life where their actions can have a really positive influence,” says Nathan Morgan, The Big Garden executive director.
“The financial contributions and scores of volunteers have really been a game changer in helping us address the systemic nature of hunger in our communities.”
– Nathan Morgan
“We are grateful to FCSAmerica for their support that has allowed us to install new gardens and expand our efforts at sites participating in the Farm to School program,” he says. “The financial contributions and scores of volunteers who have worked at the community gardens and in our greenhouses have really been a game changer in helping us address the systemic nature of hunger in our communities.”
Improving access to nutritious foods
Another charitable program FCSAmerica contributes to is the Food Bank for the Heartland’s mobile pantry program.
Since 2013, FCSAmerica has sponsored mobile pantries in rural communities within the Food Bank for the Heartland’s service area. In 2019, FCSAmerica funded 16 mobile pantries throughout Nebraska and western Iowa and provided hundreds of volunteers to assist with food distribution.
“Our mobile pantry program delivers food directly to communities that have a high need but limited food resources. The one-day distribution is free to individuals and families and includes a variety of shelf-stable products along with perishable items, including a variety of fresh produce and bakery items,” says Angie Grote, communications manager at Food Bank for the Heartland.
“In 2019, we were able to distribute approximately 70,000 pounds of food through the mobile pantry program.”
– Angie Grote
“This year we were able to distribute approximately 70,000 pounds of food through the mobile pantry program, assisting on average, 998 households each month thanks, in part, to FCSAmerica’ s extraordinary partnership.”
FCSAmerica has also supported food security initiatives addressing the most food insecure areas throughout our four states.