Mighty Pack Program: On-Campus Garden Helps Provide Vegetables to Local Students in Need
Sarah Burns, a second-year master’s student in the Nutrition and Dietetics Program at Kent State University, shows off a tomato that she and others in the program helped to grow over the last few months. Under the direction of nutrition and dietetics faculty member Natalie Caine-Bish, Ph.D., Burns and other volunteers oversee the Mighty Pack Program that provides Portage County children meals during times when they are not receiving food provided through the National School Lunch Program.
The Mighty Pack Program was a graduate student project that grew into a countywide food insecurity prevention program. A backpack with healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables and dairy items, along with nutritional education materials and kitchen supplies that are many times not available in the home, are provided to the students. The foods meet MyPlate guidelines and provide students with three dinners, two lunches, two breakfasts and four snacks.
A unique aspect of the project is the service-learning component that allows nutrition majors to volunteer in all aspects of programming, from food acquisition to backpack delivery. This was the first year when volunteers helped to plant tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, beans and squash that were included in the backpacks. Additionally, they helped to construct the fence around the garden behind Nixson Hall, compost scraps, and weed and water plants.
For more information about the Mighty Pack Program or to make a donation, contact Caine-Bish at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-672-2148.