The Obama Legacy Initiative's Garden Project continues to grow, literally! On Sunday, April 29th, the OLI Garden Project volunteers rolled up their sleeves and started work on their garden plot, one of the Naperville Park District's over 400 garden plots available for public use. OLI volunteers plan to donate all the produce raised, to the Warren Sharp Community Center in Joliet, Illinois. Executive Director of the Warren Sharp Center, Mr. Jeremy Bolden, stopped by to lend a helping hand. The volunteers loaded and unloaded two truckloads of fertilizer that was spread on the garden in preparation for a final tilling and planting in just a few weeks. Board member, Kathy Schneider, and several officers of OLI pitched in for an exciting day of fun and work.
The OLI met with the Warren Sharp Community Center about six months ago and saw the work they were doing to help the families in their community. The Center has an after-school program and a food pantry which feeds approximately 800 people per week. They teach the children how to grow crops and were invited to visit Michelle Obama's White House Gardens. OLI is proud to work with the Warren Sharp Community Center and hopes that other communities will join the Garden Project.
YES, WE CAN!
Sunday April 29, 2018 10:00AM. Families and friends will be breaking ground on a new Obama Legacy Garden. The All volunteer team will till and fertilizer a plot of land connected with the Naperville Park District. The crops raised this season will be donated to the Warren Sharp Community Center food pantry, located in Joliet IL.
Looking for a family project or just want to meet new friends, come out to the garden plot at 811 S West St, Naperville, IL 60540. Put your feet and hands in the soil and help us help those who can't help themselves. I promise you will go away feeling better than if you sit home and watch the news.
What began as a small pantry in 1983 at St. Raphael’s Church serving 8 families, has grown over the last 35 years into a polished grocery store serving the needs of over 18,798 individuals who are experiencing food insecurity. Over 3 million pounds of food were distributed in 2017, 60% of which was rescued from local grocery stores, 20% purchased and 20% came from community food drives.
On a recent visit early on a Friday morning, we saw a few of their 1,482 volunteers sorting and packaging assorted vegetables, stocking shelves with canned goods, showcasing fresh and frozen meats behind glass freezer doors and arranging fresh bread products on attractive open shelving.
On average, clients save approximately $365 per visit, money which can then be used to pay other bills, keeping family finances afloat!
Jane MacDonald, Director of Community Health, was very appreciative of the Obama Legacy Initiative’s Garden Project…hoping that even more groups will adopt the concept of Grow a Row, in which gardeners dedicate at least one row of their garden’s produce to local food pantries. Although Loaves and Fishes does not currently have garden space available for clients, they were impressed with our Michelle Obama Legacy Garden Initiative where all the garden produce will be donated! loaves-fishes.org
Detroit Grana, Cherokee Wax, Yellow Summer Gooseneck, Olympia Hybrid, Beefsteak, Black Seeded Simpson, Buttercrunch and Ferry’s Best Nantes...all of them delicious! We’re talking beets, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, wax beans, spinach and more growing in the official Obama Legacy Initiative’s Naperville community garden plot! All of this bountiful produce will be grown and harvested by leaders and volunteers associated with the OLI and donated to local food pantries. Michelle Obama’s legacy--her emphasis on healthy eating and exercise, especially for America’s children—will be carried forth with this garden initiative.
To get an early start on growing, leaders of the OLI have planted their seeds in special growing medium and sprouts are now up and enjoying their sunlit windows. Soon they will be transplanted into the OLI garden. This garden’s produce will supplement the fresh produce many local pantries make available to their clients and will, hopefully, provide even greater nutritional value to their diets. The Garden Initiative seeks to link local food pantries from across the nation to one another...where they can share best practices and learn from one another. The many pantries who also host garden plots for their clients are of special interest to the OLI, inasmuch as they help to preserve this important legacy of our former First Lady, Michelle Obama.
In Douglas County, Kansas, nearly 19,000 families are at risk for hunger…hunger in this United States of America, the land of plenty! While we could expound on the reasons why such a sad anomaly occurs, we will, instead, focus on the efforts of Just Food to come to the rescue!
Founded in 2009, when $250,000 in funding from the Obama administration American Recovery and Reinvestment Act became available, Just Food now serves 100 to 200 families each day, providing nutritious, fresh, delicious food to help supplement a family’s food needs. With about $456,000 in contributions, including grants from the US Department of Agriculture, and food donations upwards of $1,380,000 over the course of a year (these figures are from 2016), Just Foodstrives to repurpose food that might otherwise be wasted. In its warehouse, large coolers contain boxes of apples, bags of lettuce, carrots, pre-packaged salads, and potatoes. In its freezer, meat and other frozen products await distribution. In a special freezer, delicious donated cakes, pies, and pastries lay waiting for a client’s special birthday treat!
During the Obama Legacy Initiative visit by President Fred Greenwood, we saw for ourselves the dedication of their volunteers, the hardworking and efficient staff, and the clean and attractive facility that houses the food pantry and gardens. Although it was too early to view the gardens planted and flourishing, we saw the many raised beds awaiting seeds, warm weather and willing hands! Stephen Elliott, Office Coordinator, indicated that clients of Just Food are invited to plant, tend and harvest for themselves the produce they grow; they are also encouraged to donate to the pantry any leftover produce they may have.
Educational activities for their clients also take place at the food bank, including those centered on preparing healthy meals for their families.
Just Food envisions a day when everyone has access to nutritious food through an efficient and sustainable acquisition and distribution network. Its special emphasis on growing one’s own food and learning how to better prepare it continues the legacy of our former First Lady, Michelle Obama.
The Obama Legacy Initiative's mission is to