Open Harvest Co-op Receives Federal Grant for Community Food Project

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In early October, the mayor of Lincoln, Neb., Coleen Seng, and Open Harvest Cooperative Grocery announced that the cooperative and the city parks and recreation department had received a federal grant of over $275,000 for a community food project. Open Harvest will partner witih Community Crops, a local community garden project, and the Lincoln parks and recreation department. Titled “From Garden to Table,” the three-year project will address the needs of low-income, minority, and new Americans by:

  • providing access to affordable, quality, whole foods;
  • developing markets for local urban gardeners; and
  • providing education on food, gardening, and nutrition.

The USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service will fund and administer the grant. Additional partners include El Centro de las Americas, the Malone Community Center, the Asian Community and Cultural Center, the Indian Center, and the Good Neighbor Community Center.

Jackie Barnhardt, outreach director at Open Harvest ([email protected]), said the grant will help the com°©munity to be served more effectively by translating bulk food programs into other languages and developing programs about eco-literacy to educate the public on where food comes from. “Many children do not even know how a seed grows,” said Barnhardt. “We can create a stronger food security system when we understand and support the vital service our local farmers provide to us.”

The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department will help develop youth-driven community garden activities, cultivate family involvement, and provide hands-on cooking and nutrition classes, with a special focus on addressing childhood obesity. Recreation manager Sandy Myers said, “Our motivation for the project is to go beyond the mere provision of free snacks and supper, by helping the children understand the food production cycle and good nutrition, learn easy food preparation techniques and start to increase their own families’ food self-reliance.”

Several educational programs will also be developed to air on 5 CITY-TV, the government access cable TV channel. The Nutrition Education Project of the Lancaster County Extension Service will provide nutrition education and cooking classes at the F Street Recreation Center, using produce raised by children working on the youth gardens.

From Garden to Table will strengthen technical assistance, resources, and access to garden plots and small farms. The project also creates an opportunity to build an ethnic farmers market to increase access to fresh local fruits and vegetables and encourage economic development for refugee, New American, and low-income farmers.

The grant also creates opportunities to connect people to high-nutrient, economical bulk foods by expanding outreach and marketing to a broader community. KZUM Community Radio will provide cultural awareness of the From Garden to Table project and education on nutrition and food self-reliance.

—from the Lincoln Journal Star

See other articles from this issue: #127 November - December - 2006