AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Master Gardener program awarded 25 grants totaling $20,000 to projects across the state of Iowa aimed at increasing access to healthy foods for families experiencing poverty.
The grants are divided into three categories: grow, connect and teach. The grow category includes projects that cultivate produce for food pantries, the connect category is for projects that encourage gardeners to donate to food pantries, and the teach category is for educational programs about gardening for Iowans with low income.
“We are inspired by the donations Master Gardeners make to food banks,” said Susan DeBlieck, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program assistant. “These grants provide state-level support for Master Gardeners to continue their work at the local level to increase food security. With over 120,000 volunteer hours of service each year, Master Gardeners are making a big difference in Iowa communities.”
“One in every eight Iowans is food-insecure,” said Christine Hradek, ISU Extension and Outreach Human Sciences Specialist. “Many programs that received these grants are from counties with the highest levels of food insecurity.”
To be eligible to receive a grant, applicants must be an active Iowa Master Gardener, have completed Master Gardener food security webinars, and must have the support of their county Extension and Outreach staff. Many of the projects are based on strong partnerships with community organizations that serve the public.
The grants, funded through the USDA SNAP-Ed program, were awarded to Black Hawk, Bremer, Cass, Davis, Des Moines, Dubuque, Linn, Louisa, Lyon, Madison, Marion, Muscatine, Pocahontas, Polk, Story and Woodbury counties.