Poverty combined with high unemployment rates can be a recipe for disaster. Entire families become engulfed in crisis. Rescue the Children (Rescue) is a ministry of the Fresno Rescue Mission. The Mission is a nonprofit that changes lives lost to drug or alcohol addiction. The Mission assists homeless families and women who have been released from prison. Rescue provides an in-house rehabilitation and transition program. Priscilla Robbins oversees the program and noted the importance of including a nutrition and healthy living component.
For the past 5 years, UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Fresno County has been teaching the Plan, Shop, Save and Cook (PSSC) curricula to residents. During a class in April 2017, UC CalFresh staff mentioned how Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can be used to purchase vegetable plants for a home garden. This spurred a lively discussion of the advantages of growing your own fruit and vegetables. A garden area behind the facility had not been used for many years. Due to resident’s interest, plans were developed to revitalize and sustain the garden.
In Federal Fiscal Year 2016 and 2017, 135 women completed the PSSC lesson series. UC CalFresh worked with UC Master Gardeners to lead garden enhanced lesson for five weeks. After, the residents and their children planted five unused garden beds at the facility. UC CalFresh helped secure donations from Anthem Blue Cross, Jain Irrigation Inc., and Agri-Valley Irrigation, Inc. Garden resource books were donated to Rescue’s library.
Benefits from the program include:
- food sourced in the garden is served at meal time
- food waste is composted
- children staying with their mothers regularly participate in the garden
- children are exposed to Nutrition Corner in the dining hall
Children attending nearby Addams Elementary received UC CalFresh lessons at school. These lessons reinforced key messages. The garden and lessons have become a source of food and way to create connections between residents and their children. This further empowers the residents as they work together to build confidence, hope, and a new beginning.
"I have started making healthy food choices. I also plan to, once I go home, to practice all that I've learned about food prices and MyPlate. I can't wait to use the great healthy recipes I learned while taking this course." - Course participant
This article was submitted by UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program. For more information contact Karina Macias.