The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program has teamed up with Human Sciences Extension staff to increase food security in Iowa. Thanks to U.S. Department of Agriculture SNAP-Education funding, mini grants were awarded to Master Gardeners in 2016 and 2017. SNAP-Education aims to make healthy choices easier for families with limited income.
In 2016, Master Gardeners donated over 64,000 pounds of produce to nearby food banks and food pantries thanks to Growing Together Mini Grants. The mini grants provided funding to 16 county Master Gardener programs serving more than two dozen counties. In all, over 90 Master Gardeners were involved in food security mini-grant projects, putting in more than 500 total volunteer hours. Additionally, Master Gardeners leveraged the grants into an additional $15,000 for their food security programs (see the 2016 report). Learn more about 2016 results in the press release here.
In 2017, fourteen Master Gardener projects will receive a combined $70,000 in grant money through the SNAP-Education program. The grants support Master Gardener projects focused on increasing the amount of fresh produce donated to food pantries. Two primary methods are used by volunteers – growing produce for donation and running programs to connect gardeners to food pantries. Learn more about 2017 awardees in the press release here.
The SNAP-Education funds are used to fund donation gardens and educational webcasts in addition to the Growing Together mini grants. In 2017, six donation gardens will be planted at Iowa State University Research Farms around the state (learn more here). In 2016, seven donation gardens grew and donated over 9,000 pounds of produce to nearby food pantries. In spring 2017, six hours of continuing education on food security are available to Master Gardeners and community members (click here to learn more).
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