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, which provides Portage County children meals during times 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 program is that it is a service-learning program that nutrition majors volunteer in all aspects of programming, from food acquisition to backpack delivery. This year was the first year that volunteers helped to plant tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, beans and squash that were added into the backpacks. Additionally, the student volunteers helped to construct the fence around the garden behind Nixson Hall, compost scraps, and weed and water plants.
For more information about Mighty Pack Program or to make a donation, contact Natalie Caine-Bish at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-672-2148.