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Nutrition Program Grows And Donates Garden Harvests To Food Pantries

The mission of the Censible Nutrition Program is to get low-income families eating healthier food and this year they decided to grow that food from seed.

In Natrona and Bighorn Counties, the University of Wyoming extension program collaborated with local groups to create community gardens, getting kids and adults doing physical activity as they cultivated food.

Program Director Mindy Meuli said, they ended up giving away over 400 pounds of zucchini, potatoes, cantaloupe and other produce. She said there’s a real need for such foods in parts of Wyoming.  

“Several of our communities in Wyoming are what we call food deserts and access to food is limited. There may not be a grocery store. There may just be like a convenience store and they don’t carry a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Meuli said, everything they harvested they donated to local food pantries, the Salvation Army, the Boys and Girls Club and other charities.

Meuli said in extremely rural areas of Wyoming, gardens might be a solution when there’s a lack of fresh produce. 

“Particularly if you’re in a food desert, you could grow your own fruits and vegetables. And part of the SNAP benefit is you can buy seeds that can be planted that produce food. So that is helping the lower income audience reach their nutrition needs.”

Meuli said the program hopes to grow gardens in other food deserts in the state next year.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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