There are food pantries, there are farmers’ markets, and there are community gardens. For today’s Food Pantry Friday, we’re sharing a story about the amazing things that can happen when all three work together to address the hunger needs of their community. This is a special guest post from Kelly Renfrow of the Johnston Partnership for a Healthy Community in Johnston, Iowa.
For the past 10 years St. Paul Presbyterian Church in Johnston, Iowa has hosted a community garden on the church property. What started as a space for church members to help grow and enjoy fresh produce for their own families has turned into a project in which all produce grown is donated to the Johnston Partnership for a Healthy Community which operates a local food pantry for those in need.
It is a beautiful sight when church members pull in and begin unloading the fresh produce harvested that week. Tomatoes, green beans, peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and radish are just a few of the colorful vegetables that are plucked from this beautiful space less than a mile from the food pantry. Clients’ eyes light up when they see the wide selection of fresh vegetables they can select from that would otherwise be out of reach with their limited budgets. They talk with each other about how to best prepare the bountiful harvest.
As the Johnston Partnership recognized the growing demand for fresh vegetables we implemented a program called Market to Pantry. This is the second year we have asked Johnston Farmers Market vendors to donate extra produce at the end of the weekly market, which runs from May-September. This produce is also distributed through our food pantry and has been very successful. We received a grant this year that has allowed us to distribute coupons for our food pantry clients to “purchase” produce at the Johnston Farmers Market. It has been a win-win for clients and vendors.
Johnston is a thriving suburban community where poverty can sometimes go unnoticed. Through these programs we are able to provide nutritious food while maintaining our clients dignity. This could not happen without the support of St. Paul and the Johnston Market vendors.
Kelly Renfrow, Board President
Johnston Partnership for a Healthy Community