Organizers of a new initiative are seeking out Iowa gardeners for help in reducing food insecurity in the state. Cultivate Iowa aims to promote the health benefits of food gardening and to increase produce donations to food pantries.
Angie Tagtow, program coordinator for the campaign, says 400,000 Iowans don’t have access to healthy food. Tagtow says, “We thought gardening would be an innovative strategy to improving access to healthful food, improving self-sufficiency, and hopefully improving overall food security and health of low-resource populations.”
Tagtow says studies find people with less money have higher rates of diet-related chronic disease because they eat fewer fruits and vegetables. She says growing food will benefit the community but it can also help the gardener.
“The cost of food is going to be going up and so by growing your own, it actually saves a tremendous amount on your food budget in comparison to what the food prices really are,” she says.
Households and individuals who can’t afford regular access to food are considered food insecure. The project is being organized by Food Access and Health Work Group, which connects the Iowa Food Bank Association and other pantries to state agencies.