Caucus Chairmen, Hunger Advocates & Volunteers Join in Ceremonial Planting
HARRISBURG — The Chairmen of the Legislative Hunger Caucus, hunger advocates, community volunteers and members of the Legislature joined together today for a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the fourth season of the Capitol Hunger Garden and to continue their mission toward raising hunger awareness and addressing food insecurity.
During the public event, Legislative Hunger Caucus Chairs Senator Mike Brubaker (R-36) and Representative Jake Wheatley (D-19) acknowledged the three successful years served by the Hunger Garden, an approximately 1,000 square-foot area of land adjacent to the State Capitol Building. The Chairmen also praised the support of those present including the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Feeding Pennsylvania, as well as other caucus members, Penn State’s Master Gardeners, representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Secretary Sheri Phillips from the Department of General Services which has been instrumental in the maintenance of the garden. Immediately following the groundbreaking ceremony, those present began planting the garden.
“Today’s event marks another significant milestone for the Hunger Garden which for three years has proven to have a positive impact in providing nutrition to Pennsylvanians most in need. This ceremony is also a testimony to the outpouring of support received for the garden which speaks volumes to the importance of promoting hunger awareness and addressing food insecurities throughout our communities,” said Brubaker.
“This marks four years of legislators and staff from both parties and the equally valued community volunteers working together to help Pennsylvanians in need,” said Wheatley. “This garden is an ever-present reminder at the Capitol that too many of our neighbors across the state struggle just to put food on the table.”
Both Brubaker and Wheatley emphasized the garden’s reliance on volunteers who dedicate their time to planting and harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables which are donated to food banks, pantries and other local agencies. Since its inception, the garden has annually produced approximately 700 to 1,000 pounds of vegetables for low-income residents.
Last year’s Capitol Hunger Garden yielded a plentiful crop of tomatoes, onions and green peppers, some of which were used to create hundreds of jars of Capitol Hunger Garden Salsa. The salsa is being offered at http://thehungercaucus.pasenategop.com for a minimum donation, and proceeds go directly to Pennsylvania’s 21 food banks.
According to the Hunger Caucus Chairs, many food banks and charitable organizations are stretching their resources to assist those individuals most in need and recognizing the seriousness of the problem is the first step toward finding a solution. The Downtown Daily Bread, a soup kitchen located in Harrisburg which serves the hungry, is one of the benefactors of the garden and utilizes the bounty of produce in its meals for the needy and homeless.
“Downtown Daily Bread is delighted to participate in the Hunger Garden once again this year. The soup kitchen, cook, and clients benefit from the produce harvested from the garden. The clients also benefit from the nutritional value of the food and the flavor it adds to their meals. We are delighted with the cost – as there is none,” added Elaine Strokoff, Executive Director.
Since Brubaker founded the Legislative Hunger Caucus three years ago, he has worked collaboratively with the Governor’s office and members of the General Assembly. The caucus is a bipartisan group of state lawmakers who partner with the community to address hunger and its underlying causes.
Those interested in donating time to or supplies for the Hunger Garden are encouraged to contact Brubaker at his district office by calling (717) 627-0036 or by visiting the Hunger Caucus website at www.senatorbrubaker.com/hungercaucus.htm.
Colleen Greer (Sen. Brubaker’s Office)
Ben Turner (Rep. Wheatley’s Office)