FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rep. John Myers
Hunger Caucus breaks ground on Capitol Hunger Garden
Follow the crop on 'Garden-cam'
HARRISBURG, May 5 – State Rep. John Myers., D-Phila., whose signature issue is connecting the state's agriculture industry to the food needs of urban Pennsylvania, joined colleagues today at the groundbreaking of the Capitol Hunger Garden in Harrisburg, an event aimed at showcasing the importance of nutrition and the role of community gardens throughout Pennsylvania.
The Hunger Garden will rely on volunteers to grow fresh vegetables to be donated to local food banks. The garden is located adjacent to the state Capitol between the governor’s entrance and the Ryan Office Building. Planting will begin on May 7.
"This garden is as essential to us today as the ‘Victory Gardens’ were to America during World War II," said Myers, who is co-chairman of the Hunger Caucus, a group of legislators who work to raise awareness about the issue of hunger.
"Depending on the size of the gardens we can promote in our communities, especially those underserved by access to fresh produce, a garden can make a difference to the nutritional intake of an individual, family or even a neighborhood, especially to those who cannot afford the balanced diet essential to one’s health.
"For the sake of life-sustaining nutrition and the stimulation to get outside and do something healthy, I urge citizens who are able to devote a few minutes a day to a garden, whether it’s their own or a community effort. Get out there and do some digging and weeding. Nothing tastes better than the vegetables that come right out of the garden and nothing feels better than also seeing your efforts help feed your neighbors in need."
The Hunger Caucus will work collaboratively on the Hunger Garden project with the Governor’s Office, the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, state Sen. Mike Brubaker, R-Lancaster/Chester, and state Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Phila., who originally suggested the concept at last month’s Hunger Caucus meeting.
"I am deeply grateful for the support we have received for this project from individuals and organizations across the Commonwealth, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact that the hunger garden will have in providing nutrition to Pennsylvanians in need," said Brubaker, who serves as co-chairman of the Hunger Caucus. "The tremendous outpouring of support we have received for the Hunger Garden speaks volumes about the importance of promoting hunger awareness and addressing food insecurity issues in our communities."
"I just love the fact that Senator Brubaker and Representative Myers embraced this idea as a project for the Hunger Caucus and took immediate steps to plant a garden at the Capitol," said Evans. "Quite simply, food is medicine. For our children, for our seniors and for the most vulnerable among us, providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables is the single most important step we can take to nourish people, neighborhoods and entire communities."
Evans, who is a member of the Hunger Caucus, is nationally known as an advocate for projects that provide fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved urban and rural communities. He is the founder of Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative, a public-private partnership to renovate or build grocery stores around the Commonwealth. The program’s success was such that it served as the model for a national program unveiled recently by the Obama administration.
Last month, Evans met with First Lady Michelle Obama and others at the White House to discuss issues of food access as they relate to the epidemic of childhood obesity. While there, he spoke about the Hunger Garden and urged other legislators to create similar gardens at state capitols around the nation.
Members of the Hunger Caucus were joined at today’s groundbreaking by Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, representatives from DGS, and a number of organizations, businesses and individuals who are supporting the hunger garden with supplies and volunteer work.
Individuals and organizations who have already pledged supplies and volunteers for the hunger garden include: Mars, Home Depot, Wenger Feeds, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Glenn Esbenshade, Lancaster County Career and Technology Center, Monsanto, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Ag Coalition, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, PennAg Industries Association, Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association, Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association, Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture, Pennsylvania Hunger Action Network, Evans’ legislative staff, state Sen. Richard Alloway’s staff, state Rep. Deberah Kula, D-Fayette/Westmoreland, and the Pennsylvania State Grange.
A live video feed of the garden is available at www.pahouse.com/gardencam.asp, which will allow viewers to check on the progress of the garden.
Video and audio of today’s news conference are available online at www.senatorbrubaker.com/hungercaucus.htm.
Individuals who are interested in donating time or supplies for a hunger garden in their neighborhood are encouraged to contact Myers at his district office by calling (215) 849-6896 or by e-mail at RepMyers@pahouse.net, or by visiting the Hunger Caucus website at www.senatorbrubaker.com/hungercaucus.htm.