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In Missouri, growing vegetables means tackling poverty
The scope of Grow Well Missouri is to enhance healthy food access to poor people who rely on food pantries.
In the United States one in six people currently suffers from hunger. Today, there are many food companies and supermarket chains that donate part of their food products to people in need. These products are then collected in large food pantries.
But an association decided to raise the bar teaching people how to grow their own food. Grow Well Missouri was established to enhance healthy food access in food pantries and to educate people on how to adopt a more balanced diet that helps tackling chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol levels.
The association started an initiative that aims to provide low-income people with garden seeds and plants in combination with gardening education to support them in the cultivation of their food.
In a recent demonstration that took place in Columbia, Missouri, four volunteers for Grow Well Missouri showed a steady stream of visitors how to cultivate some species of tomato in a pot. The participants were given a bag containing a tomato plant, a trowel and a booklet on how to grow a plant.
“It’s really probably the highest quality food you could get. You’ve grown it yourself, you pick it and you eat it,” said Bill McKelvey, founder of Grow Well Missouri.
When people need to take food from pantries, they don’t always find healthy products and they rarely come by fresh produce, even though many food banks are trying to change the situation.
“You know a lot of what obviously is donated because it keeps longer is stuff that’s canned” – said Livia Marques, a food and health program officer with the WK Kellogg Foundation – Clearly giving people the opportunity to grow it themselves is optimal”.
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