6 NW Iowa counties receiving ‘mini-grants’ that help support food pantries

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 10:32 AM CST
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AMES, Iowa (KTIV) - Officials at Iowa State University say there has been record-setting use of food pantries throughout Iowa. In the midst of this, “Growing Together Mini-Grants” are being sent to communities throughout the state that are meant to help local food pantries.

The purpose of these grants is to provide fresh produce and nutrition education to pantries in 2023 through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s SNAP-Education program.

Officials say a total of 30 projects are being funded with the goal of increasing food security and promoting healthy food access. There are a total of six of these projects in northwest Iowa, they include:

  • Calhoun - Expand a wheelchair-accessible garden on-site at Opportunity Living with four additional raised garden beds that clients will plant and harvest. Produce will be donated to local food pantries.
  • Crawford - Provide garden space for food pantry clients and increase the production of the Denison donation garden to benefit local pantries, including the Temporary Aid Program food pantry.
  • Dickinson - Expand the two donation gardens to include space for pantry clients to grow their own produce. The gardens benefit Upper Des Moines food pantry and several other food cupboards.
  • Harrison - Create a donation garden with raised beds at The Crew Center in Woodbine that will engage older adults, elementary school children and high school students in volunteering. Produce will be donated to the Woodbine Community Food Pantry.
  • Lyon - Expand the donation garden to meet the produce needs of ATLAS of Lyon County. Opportunities for food pantry clients will be provided including container gardening workshops, garden tours and helping hours.
  • O’Brien - Maintain donation gardens in Sanborn and Sheldon and collect excess home gardening produce donations. A container gardening class will be offered to food pantry clients at Love INC as well as “Pick Your Own” gardening opportunities.

According to ISU officials, 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 Amerigroup. Over the past seven years, officials say the mini-grants have resulted in fruit and vegetable donations of almost 650,000 pounds in Iowa.

“This project mobilizes communities to help people experiencing food insecurity in a very tangible way,” said Katie Sorrell, extension education specialist and project coordinator for Growing Together. “Growing Together helps food pantries expand their offerings to include garden fresh fruits and vegetables.”