HARRISBURG – The Hunger Caucus broke ground today on the hunger garden at the state Capitol Building, according to Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-36).
The hunger garden will rely on volunteers to grow fresh vegetables to be donated to local food banks. The garden is located adjacent to the Capitol Building between the Governor’s entrance and the Ryan Office Building. Brubaker said that planting would begin on May 7.
“I am deeply grateful for the support we have received for this project from individuals and organizations across the Commonwealth, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact that the hunger garden will have in providing nutrition to Pennsylvanians in need,” said Brubaker, who serves as co-chairman of the Hunger Caucus. “The tremendous outpouring of support we have received for the hunger garden speaks volumes about the importance of promoting hunger awareness and addressing food insecurity issues in our communities.”
Brubaker said the Hunger Caucus will work collaboratively on the hunger garden project with the Governor’s Office, the Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS), Hunger Caucus co-chair Rep. John Myers (D-201) and Rep. Dwight Evans (D-203), who originally suggested the concept at last month’s Hunger Caucus meeting.
“This garden is as essential to us today as the ‘victory gardens’ were to America during World War II,” said Myers. “Depending on the size of the gardens we can promote in our communities, especially those underserved by access to fresh produce, a garden can make a difference to the nutritional intake of an individual, family or even a neighborhood, especially to those who cannot afford the balanced diet essential to one’s health.”
“For the sake of life-sustaining nutrition and the stimulation to get outside and do something healthy, I urge citizens who are able to devote a few minutes a day to a garden, whether it’s their own or a community effort,” Myers said. “Get out there and do some digging and weeding; nothing tastes better than the vegetables that come right out of the garden and nothing feels better than also seeing your efforts help feed your neighbors in need.”
“I just love the fact that Senator Brubaker and Representative Myers embraced this idea as a project for the Hunger Caucus and took immediate steps to plant a garden at the Capitol,” said Evans. “Quite simply, food is medicine. For our children, for our seniors, and for the most vulnerable among us, providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables is the single most important step we can take to nourish people, neighborhoods and entire communities.”
Evans, who is a member of the Hunger Caucus, is nationally known as an advocate for projects that provide fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved urban and rural communities. He is the founder of Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative, a public-private partnership to renovate or build grocery stores around the commonwealth. The program’s success was such that it served as the model for a national program unveiled recently by the Obama Administration.
Last month, Evans met with First Lady Michelle Obama and others at the White House to discuss issues of food access as they relate to the epidemic of childhood obesity. While there, he spoke about the hunger garden and urged other legislators to create similar gardens at Capitols around the nation.
Members of the Hunger Caucus were joined at today’s groundbreaking by Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, representatives from DGS, and a number of organizations, businesses and individuals who are supporting the hunger garden with supplies and volunteer work.
Individuals and organizations who have already pledged supplies and volunteers for the hunger garden include: Mars, Home Depot, Wenger Feeds, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Glenn Esbenshade, Lancaster County Career and Technology Center, Monsanto, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Ag Coalition, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, PennAg Industries Association, Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association, Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association, Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture, Pennsylvania Hunger Action Network, Rep. Evans’ staff, Sen. Richard Alloway’s (R-33) staff, Rep. Deberah Kula (D-52) and Pennsylvania State Grange.
Video and audio of today’s press conference are available online at www.senatorbrubaker.com/hungercaucus.htm and www.pasenategop.com. Brubaker said that a live video feed of the garden will also be available in the future to allow viewers to check on the progress of the garden.
Individuals who are interested in donating time 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.
Christine Stoltzfus (Senator Brubaker)
Johnna Pro (Representatives Evans and Myers)