Keep Growing: Schedule a Saturday garden work shift (of two hours) for your group (or family, friends) during the Fall SU Shares 1000 effort. Contact Molly Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a Saturday work shift.
Shifts: early bird shift (8AM to 10 AM) or the mid-morning crew (10 AM-12 PM) to Dig In our commitment to feeding our community. Bring labeled garden tools and gloves if you have them. RSVP to Molly Jensen at email@example.com.
Over the summer, our garden intern and volunteers helped to water, weed and harvest the many golden tomatoes, eggplant, peppers , basil and okra that grew beautifully! The SU newsroom reported on it, http://www.southwestern.edu/newsroom/story.php?id=2980 .We estimate that approximately,
320-360 lbs of produce were donated to the SU and Georgetown community over the summer and early fall harvest .
In it, thirty-four percent of food pantries and fifty-eight percent of kitchens in Austin were found to be in need of more fruits and vegetables!
Our impact on these food banks is not solely based on quantity. Food insecurity issues are vastly complex and in the US, children who do not have access to food are often obese and at high-risk for diet-related diseases like Type 2 diabetes. This paradox is related to the quality of food that families have access to.
“To put food on the table, families must have resources at their disposal that most of us take for granted: sufficient income, transportation, a good food store that is convenient, knowledge about how to buy and prepare the foods that they want to eat and that are nutritious, and time to shop and cook” (Sustainable Food Center).
Thus, families have a harder time gaining access to food, fresh foods in particular. The choices are often a “fast food” $1 meal or only 3 apples for $1. Even after greater access is achieved through community gardens, fresh food distribution from area food banks or other means, difficulties still exist in the preparation of nutritious meals.
The Sustainable Food Center explains that “a lack of knowledge about food and nutrition, exacerbate the problem…” (Sustainable Food Center).
In many communities of busy families with low-incomes, cooking traditions have been replaced with food marketing messages:
Just as tobacco and alcohol advertisers target low-income consumers, so too do the purveyors of fast or processed food. Indeed, according to the Wall Street Journal, twenty-five percent of fast food hamburger sales are in stores that service low-income neighborhoods (Sustainable Food Center).
According to a 2008 estimate, greater than 6% of Williamson County population lives below the poverty line (US Census Bureau 2008). This rate of poverty indicates that more than 2,500 families in Williamson County are in need of healthy nutritious food.
Senior citizens often face greater food insecurity, from diminished income, lack of transportation, and limited access to food. With the fourth highest rate of senior food insecurity, nearly nine percent of senior Texans lack food security (Meals on Wheels association of America). Georgetown’s development patterns tend to exacerbate food access problems: the community is a non-urban area with sparse public transportation and dispersed shopping areas.
Community gardens have the power to change these trends in food insecurity and limited food access. By cultivating food gardens and sharing food with community members in need, community gardeners can create a flourishing network of local, fresh food access. Southwestern Community Garden is embracing this potential and working to put fresh food on the tables of families in need.
The SU campus garden sits on a quiet, verdant space behind the Studio Arts building. Student, staff, and faculty gardeners have prepared and planted these garden beds for the last two years. And after an abundant late summer harvest, the garden is ripe for planting again.
At the start of this new season of planting, the current campus gardeners are challenging the Southwestern University campus to join together to grow and share sustaining and sustainable food.
The challenge is this:
Together, Southwestern University students, staff, faculty, and administrators commit to growing and donating 1,000 bags of fresh food to Meals on Wheels and Head Start programs.
Both Meals on Wheels and Head Start provide freshly prepared meals to low-income residents. While Meals on Wheels meets the food needs of elderly home-bound residents, Head Start provides nutritious food and after-school enrichment for children. These well-established non-profits serve those persons most at risk for nutritional deficiencies and hunger.
In addition to meeting the food needs of our community, the Southwestern University community garden nurtures community in other ways. By digging, planting, harvesting, and sharing food, members of the SU community cultivate deep connections to the land we inhabit and to one another.
We hope that you will join us as we nourish our community.
Sustainable Food Center. Access Denied: An Analysis of Problems Facing East Austin Residents in Their Attempts To
Obtain Affordable, Nutritious Food.
Ziliak, J., & Gundersen, C. (2009, Nov.). Senior hunger in the United States:Differences
across states and rural and urban areas. University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research
Special Report. Retrieved [September 2010] from http://www.ukcpr.org/Publications/statedifferences.