Grow Well Missouri
Grow Well Missouri works to enhance healthy food access and education in food pantries. The project stems from ongoing research of the Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security showing that rates of chronic health conditions (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol) are significantly higher among food pantry clients than the general public.
Initiated in 2011 through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Grow Well Missouri is now entering its fifth year with funding from the Missouri Foundation for Health. As the project moves forward, key activities include
- Formation of Wellness Groups at food pantries to identify high priority health and nutrition needs and develop strategies to address those needs.
- Gardening education in combination with the distribution of garden seeds and other supplies to food pantry clients to support the expansion and development of home and community gardens.
- Development of a Peer to Peer network of food pantry directors, staff, and volunteers to increase learning and sharing among groups across Missouri.
As of 2015, agencies enrolled in the project include the Shelby County Food Pantry (Shelbina), St. James Caring Center, the Help Center (Mexico), Central Pantry (Columbia), Moniteau Christian Ministries Center (California), and Neighbors Helping Neighbors (Boonville). The project is supported by a host of partners including the Health Communication Research Center, the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, University of Missouri Extension, and the Missouri Food Bank Association. Private companies have provided support as well, including St. Louis Composting and Morgan County Seeds.
To learn more about some early impacts of the project, see the 2013 Gardening Program Summary.
The Garden $aver: News from Grow Well Missouri
Issue 1, 2014: Soil Improvement, Garden Hygiene, Harvesting Sweet Potatoes, Salsa and Roasted Squash
Issue 2, 2014: Storing Seeds, Tool Maintenance, Crop Rotation, Cooking Sweet Potatoes
MU to Help Foster Food Pantry Capacity, Education in Rural Missouri (MU News Bureau)
Funding for this project is provided in part by the Missouri Foundation for Health. The Missouri Foundation for Health is a philanthropic organization whose vision is to improve the health of the people in the communities it serves.