By Laura Cleland, Creating Healthy Communities Project Director

The Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) Coalition is committed to increasing access to healthy food options. Food insecurity is defined as “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”

Feeding America states the overall food insecurity rate in Meigs County is 16.9%, which is just under 4,000 food insecure individuals.

Laura Cleland, Creating Healthy Communities Project Director

The CHC Coalition has been working with schools and organizations to implement community gardens to make healthy produce options available and accessible. Eastern, Meigs, Southern and Mid Valley Christian School have all participated in gardening in varying capacities. Eastern Middle and Mid Valley Christian School both implemented greenhouse to increase their growing season; Meigs Primary utilizes their garden as an outdoor classroom; and Southern High implemented a hydroponic system to be able to grow produce indoors during the school year.

School gardening has many benefits for engaged students including but not limited to: developing a sense of ownership and responsibility; learning where their food comes from; and promoting a healthy lifestyle by encouraging the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, the National Center for Biotechnology Information studied the effects of a school garden, and stated that garden based learning may favorably impact both academic performance and fruit and vegetable consumption in children.

If you are interested in joining the fight against hunger and in working to increase access to healthy food options contact me at the Meigs County Health Department (740) 992-6626 or laura.cleland@meigs-health.com

Lastly, if you garden and have excess produce during harvest season, consider donating the excess to your local food pantry. You can find a list of food pantries under “Resources- Quick Reference Guide July 2018” on the Health Department website: www.meigs-health.com