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

CHIPPEWA FALLS - This marks the fourth season that HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital will offer plots in its community garden to feed those in need. The plots are slated to be ready for gardeners in May.

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 can keep the entire harvest. Organizations, community teams and individuals who are willing to donate their entire harvest to the local food pantries through St. Joseph's Hospital will pay $35 per plot. Plots are 12 feet by 24 feet and irrigation is included. Please make checks payable to Partners of HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital. For more information, or to pick up an application, call Garden Manager Roger Elliott at 715-563-2069 or rwelae@charter.net.

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 Partnership, RainMaster Lawn Systems, Jaenke Concrete, Tractor Central, Community Foundation of Chippewa County and Hospital Sisters Health Care West.

Did You Know:  Food security involves four components related to food: availability, accessibility, adequacy and dependability of supply. Food insecurity is sometimes defined as access to enough food for an active, healthy life by all people, or as the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods, or the inability or uncertainty to acquire these foods in a socially acceptable way. Source: American Institute of Nutrition.  The 2010 Census of Chippewa County revealed that 14 percent of Chippewa County residents are considered food insecure which is 8,738 Chippewa County residents. Poverty is also often related to food insecurity. The poverty rate in Chippewa County was found to be 11.6 percent or 7,240 Chippewa County residents in 2010.

 

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