By Susan DeBlieck, Christine Hradek, and Caitlin Szymanski—Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Master Gardener volunteers with Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach continue to improve the lives and communities of Iowans, with more than $50,000 awarded in Growing Together Mini-Grants this past year. Twenty-two counties across the state received grants in 2019, which resulted in about 115,000 pounds of produce being donated to nearby pantries. The funds are supplied by the federal SNAP-Education program and are focused on increasing food security and promoting healthy food access.
Often, a community has already begun a food security project, but is in need of some extra support, outlined Susan DeBlieck, Master Gardener State Coordinator with ISU Extension and Outreach. “The mini-grants are really meeting a need,” DeBlieck said. “Putting just a little bit of money into donation gardens to harvest produce that ends up in someone’s home goes a long way toward improving their day.”
Making a Difference
Success stories are popping up across the state. This last round of funding expanded and maintained donation gardens to benefit local food pantries in Muscatine County. Volunteers also supported a local vegetable freezing and packing event to make local vegetables accessible later in the year at local food pantries.
ISU Extension and Outreach county offices can now apply for the 2020 Growing Together Grants, with a deadline of January 10th. Grants are available up to $4,000. The mini grant guidelines are provided online, and a sample mini grant application is also available. For more information about the Master Gardener Growing Together project, contact Susan DeBlieck at (515)-294-6764, or [email protected].