As food prices rise, local group plants food for food pantries

KCRG-TV9's Ethan Stein shows us why an Iowa City-area nonprofit is planting vegetables in tonight's Show You Care Spotlight.
Published: May. 1, 2022 at 11:09 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development, which is a nonprofit based in Amana, is planting vegetables with the goal to donate it to give to food pantries and early childcare sites.

The group said it expects the need for free vegetables to increase because inflation is causing food prices to increase and emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits related to the pandemic expired in April. Those bonuses expiring caused families to lose hundreds of dollars for groceries, according to prior TV9 reporting.

Claire Zabel, who is the food and farm specialist for the nonprofit, said the group is about a week behind currently. She said the group’s work is important because families can’t afford fresh vegetables anymore.

“It’s important because there are a lot of families out there that want fresh food and it’s hard to find and it’s expensive in the store as well,” Zabel said. “So, having it available for the pantries when they need it is a huge bonus to health for the county and just making sure that families are getting what they need.”

Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development plan to plant onions, potatoes, and lettuce through its Grow: Johnson County program. According to the group, the program grows over 30,000 pounds of produce every year on the Johnson County Historic Poor Farm in Iowa City and sends it to 16 other agencies.

This yea,r Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development plans to grow over 50 vegetable varieties including carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, watermelon, onions, broccoli, and peppers.

Jason Grimm, who is the nonprofit’s executive director, said it also hopes to help students acquire new skills, like learning to farm. He said students engage and learn about how to grow an onion or how long certain seeds need to grow in a greenhouse.

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