Hunger Garden opening highlights charitable food efforts

By on May 7, 2014

On April 29, I was honored to join members of the General Assembly’s Hunger Caucus and hunger advocates from across the state to break ground for the fifth growing season for the Capitol Hunger Garden in Harrisburg. While the initial planting was delayed by a week due to heavy rain, the event still highlighted the tremendous successes of this project in its first four years, as well as emphasizing the significant challenges that lie ahead.

As a source of healthy food for needy Pennsylvanians and a venue for numerous educational events, the Capitol Hunger Garden continues to serve as a rallying point in the fight against hunger. After four growing seasons, this project has truly demonstrated how much can be achieved when hardworking, civic-minded individuals unite toward a common goal of helping others. Each year, the garden has drawn on generous donations and dedicated volunteer efforts to produce hundreds of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to be donated to local charitable food organizations.

The groundbreaking ceremony also included the participation of a number of the non-profit groups who have offered their unwavering support for the project in the fight against hunger since its creation, including representatives from Feeding Pennsylvania, the Central PA Food Bank and the Downtown Daily Bread. The efforts of these and other charitable food organizations have played an instrumental role in helping the growing number of individuals and families at risk for hunger due to economic hardship.

The event also highlighted the vital contributions of donors, community volunteers and master gardeners from the Penn State Cooperative Extension. This project could not continue without dedicated, generous individuals who are willing to give their time and effort to build a better community and help their friends and neighbors. This year, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Feeding Pennsylvania donated funds to replace equipment for the irrigation and fertilization necessary to operate the garden. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association contributed funding to purchase seeds and plants.

While the recent ceremony offered an opportunity to reflect on the success of the Hunger Garden and other charitable food efforts in the Commonwealth, hunger and food insecurity remain a very serious danger to families in every community in the nation. Approximately one out of every eight state residents struggles with food insecurity, and hunger presents a significant risk to many families in our communities. The effects of hunger are particularly devastating for children since learning and development are directly tied to proper nutrition. More information on the effects of hunger and updates on the progress of the garden are available at the Hunger Caucus page of my website at senatorbrubaker.pasenategop.com/hungercaucus.htm.

Constant vigilance and dedicated public involvement are the best tools we have available to confront this issue. The Hunger Garden and similar efforts to help those in need are solely dependent on individuals and groups who are willing to devote their time and efforts to a good cause. As Chairman of the Hunger Caucus, I urge all local residents to consider taking part in the ongoing efforts to provide healthy nutritional options to families who are struggling to put food on the table. Individuals and organizations who are interested in learning more about contributing volunteer hours or supplies to the Capitol Hunger Garden should contact my district office at 627-0036.

Sen. Brubaker represents the Lititz area in Harrisburg. His column appears weekly in the commentary section of the Record Express. His Lititz office is located at 301 E. Main St. To contact him, call 627-0036.

For more information on issues of importance to Lancaster and Chester County residents, visit his website at senatorbrubaker.com.

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