Master Gardeners Work to Decrease Food Insecurity

Iowa food pantries receive 225,000 servings of fruits and vegetables


AMES, Iowa – For the second consecutive year, the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program partnered with food pantries across Iowa in an effort to reduce food insecurity in the state.

Master Gardeners working in vegetable gardenMaster Gardener volunteers donated produce grown in 15 counties as well as demonstration gardens from six Iowa State research farms as part of the Growing Together initiative. The total donation came to 74,841 pounds of fruits and vegetables that went to more than 75 locations across the state. These donations provided nearly 225,000 servings of fruits and vegetables for Iowans with low income.

In all, 231 Master Gardeners volunteered time to help grow the produce. Another 457 people volunteered to assist Master Gardeners with their work.

“Iowa Master Gardener volunteers are expanding the impact of ISU Extension and Outreach,” said Susan DeBlieck, Master Gardener assistant coordinator. “This partnership with SNAP-Education is helping Master Gardeners increase donations of fresh food to food pantries.”

The ISU Extension and Outreach Master Gardener Program, ISU Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed)  and the ISU Research and Demonstration Farms collaborated to provide these opportunities to ensure the produce grown will reach local food pantries.

“This partnership advances healthy food access through volunteerism and community partnerships,” said Christine Hradek, SNAP-Ed coordinator with Iowa State University. “It is a wonderful service to Iowa’s food pantries and their clients.”

The success of the program through ISU Extension and Outreach is being noticed by other universities as well. The University of Wisconsin, Purdue University and the University of Nebraska are finishing their first year with similar SNAP-Ed funded programs.

More information about the Master Gardener Program can be found online, as well as information on how to become a Master Gardener.