AMES, Iowa – In the midst of record setting food pantry usage throughout the state, Growing Together Mini-Grants will provide fresh produce and nutrition education to pantries in 2024 through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s SNAP-Education program.
Louisa County is among those to receive a grant, and the funds will go toward constructing a donation garden in Wapello in partnership with Master Gardeners, Wapello Food Pantry staff, local church youth groups and volunteers and 4-H members to supply fruits and vegetables to the Wapello Food Pantry. Nutrition education courses will also be offered on-site at the pantry.
"I came across information about this grant roughly a month after having a conversation with Brian Hall in regards to the pumpkin patch he started for our local 4-H groups. A handful of conversations later we were able to partner with Adair Lents, Abby Boysen, and April Kauffman from our local ISU Extension Office, Kathy Barrick from the food pantry, and local Master Gardener Jeri Bailey to submit the application! It's amazing how God has brought all this together to benefit the Wapello community!" stated Tim Johnson, Pastor at the Wapello United Methodist Church.
A total of 32 projects are being funded statewide, with the goal of increasing food security and promoting healthy food access.
This year, the Growing Together Iowa project is also expanding to five new counties. A map is available that shows where projects are funded throughout the state.
Growing Together mini-grants have been funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s SNAP-Education since 2016. This year, additional funding for Growing Together Iowa was provided by Iowa Total Care. Iowa was the first state to create the Growing Together model, which has been replicated in Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Wyoming
South Dakota, and Montana. Over the past eight years, the mini-grants have resulted in fruit and vegetable donations of almost 751,000 pounds in Iowa.
Volunteers plant donation gardens with partners, support their community with plant-a-row programs to get more produce into food pantries, and glean fresh produce from farmers markets.
“We are excited about this project and the opportunity to offer fresh produce locally to Louisa County residents,” said Adair Lents, Louisa County Extension and Outreach Director. “The Growing Together Iowa grant will help us financially get our project started to be able to have a successful garden throughout the summer.”
For more information, contact Jeri Bailey, Master Gardener coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.