SNAP-Ed is a federally-funded program operated through Iowa State University Human Sciences Extension and Outreach. The goal of SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) is to help families experiencing poverty make healthy choices within tight grocery budgets. This is done through education like the Buy Eat Live Healthy Program and interventions designed to make healthy choices easier.
This year the SNAP-Ed team is collaborating with the ISU Master Gardener program to improve access to fruits and vegetables in Iowa food pantries this summer. The project has two parts. The first consists of model donation gardens on each of the research farms, of which Muscatine Island Research and Demonstration Farm, located in Fruitland, is one. These seven large gardens will be used for education about and promotion of donation gardening across the state. The model gardens are expected to yield thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables for food pantries. The project also includes local mini-grants to counties that submitted Master Gardener-led food security and donation gardening proposals. Sixty-six proposals were received, far more than expected.
The counties with funded projects include: Black Hawk, Bremer (2 projects), Cass, Davis, Des Moines, Dubuque (2 projects), Linn (2 projects), Louisa, Lyon, Madison, Marion, Muscatine (2 projects), Pocahontas, Polk (3 projects), Story (2 projects), and Woodbury.
Heather Harroun is working with Mulford Community Garden to address food security on two fronts: first, by providing plots for individual gardeners to grow their own produce, and second, by providing fresh produce for a weekly free produce stand as well as for Mulford Church’s emergency food pantry. This site has been a donation garden for over ten years and is in its fourth year of providing plots for the community. This year they will expand the number of plots available to community members and upgrade food handling safety practices.
Kathy Haltmeyer is working with special education middle school students at Muscatine’s West Middle School in growing plants from seeds to harvest. The connection with the school allows the students to start the plants indoors and then help with harvest when school starts again.