Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

It Takes a County … to Help Feed Families!

Bread of Life Food Pantry Volunteers

In small rural communities like Cedar County, Iowa it takes many people wearing different hats to coordinate a successful food drive effort. This group gleaned for the Bread of Life Food Pantry to help support USDA’s Feds Feed Families campaign.

USDA employees at the Tipton Service Center in Iowa are making impressive contributions to this year’s Feds Feed Families campaign. USDA Rural Development employee Mike Boyle reported food donations exceeding 750 pounds for the month of June and 1,760 pounds in July – just a portion of what is expected to be distributed throughout Tipton and surrounding eastern Iowa communities as part of the food drive this summer.

“We’re off to a good start,” said Boyle. “Last season, we donated approximately five tons of food to local non-profits. Our goal now is to top that.”

What makes these efforts unique is that most of the food pledged comes from a local source, Tipton’s Hardacre Community Garden. Boyle and a small legion of volunteers donate their free time to grow fresh produce for neighbors in need. With hands in the dirt, these gardening enthusiasts cultivate a wide array of healthy fruits and vegetables. What’s grown is donated as part of the People’s Garden Initiative year-round ‘Share Your Harvest’ effort which directly supports the Feds Feed Families Food Drive.

The immediate recipients of the harvest are local individuals, churches, and nonprofit organizations such as the Cedar Manor nursing care center and the Bread of Life Food Pantry. These donations provide for those who may otherwise be unable to access fresh foods and help to build a healthy community food system.

Tipton People's Garden

The Tipton People’s Garden produces a bounty of potatoes, garlic, and corn to help feed those in need.

Established in 2009, Hardacre Community Garden has been recognized as an official USDA People’s Garden. This means that the garden adheres to three criteria —it’s a collaborative effort, benefits the community, and incorporates sustainable practices.

Hardacre Community Garden is trying to promote healthier lifestyles by incentivizing the consumption of locally grown and organic produce. The food donated by the garden can only be consumed or shared, but not sold. And the garden’s bounty leaves a light environmental footprint.

“Everything we do makes a difference,” said Mike Boyle with a smile.

People’s Gardens, such as Hardacre Community Garden in Tipton, Iowa allow beneficiaries to stretch their food budgets without compromising on nutrition or environment health. Thus, such projects reflect the fundamental spirit of the Feds Feed Families campaign, for what appears on the surface to be helping neighbors is ultimately helping us all.

Emilia Luna is a Project Assistant in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's blog.

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