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HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital gives garden opportunity for those in need

Monday, June 01, 2015

HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital gives garden opportunity for those in need

CHIPPEWA FALLS - This is the third season that HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital's green team will offer plots in its community garden to feed those in need. The plots are ready for gardeners.

For a small plot fee, individuals and families whose budgets do not allow for fresh produce, or who struggle to put food on the table, have the opportunity to grow their own at St. Joseph's Hospital's Community Garden. People who feel they need the food are encouraged to keep their entire yield.

Service organizations also are welcome to rent plots and are asked to donate their harvest to local food pantries through St. Joseph's Hospital.

Through a community needs assessment of Chippewa County done by Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership, St. Joseph's Hospital and Chippewa County Public Health, it was determined that food insecurity is a significant problem in the county. The community requested that the hospital and its committees look at ways get food to people and people to food.

St. Joseph's Hospital's green team took on the project with the help of several departments throughout the hospital and with donations from many organizations in the community. The Green Team has connected with nearly all of the food pantries in Chippewa County, and has made sure that donated fruits and vegetables get to those that can use them.

Being in need of fresh food isn't just about people who go hungry on a daily basis.

"Food insecurity is a problem for middle class families too," said Rhonda Brown, director of 3D Community Health - Body.Mind.Spirit with HSHS St. Joseph's and Sacred Heart hospitals. "It's the family of four who have high medical bills, the mechanic who recently lost his job, or the single mom whose car just died. Unfortunately fresh food gets cut from the already slim budget because of accessibility, cost and other factors.

"When we think about improving food security we want to empower and educate people."

The garden is located off of Scheidler Road across from Chippewa Valley Technical College. The cost is $20 per plot for a household. Those in need keep the entire harvest. Organizations will pay $35 per plot and are asked to donate the harvest to local food pantries through St. Joseph's Hospital. Plots are 12 feet by 24 feet and irrigation is included. The hospital is planning to give free growing education classes throughout the summer to encourage its gardeners. Please make checks payable to Partners of St. Joseph's Hospital.

For more information, call 715-717-7331 or fill out the application here.

This project would not have been possible without support from Master Gardener Volunteers, Friends of St. Joseph's Hospital, Partners of St. Joseph's Hospital, UW Extension Office (Jerry Clark), Chippewa Health Improvement