Growing, Learning, Living Well - it’s a SNAP!

July 14, 2021 Ascentria Care Alliance

Your Support Grows Vegetables and Brings Healthy Eating to the Community

Ascentria’s SNAP-Education Nutrition Program (SNAP-Ed) was established in 2013, to help members of the local community in Hampden County, MA make healthy, nutritious food choices and lead physically active lifestyles.

Given the expressed interest in gardening, 2 years ago, in partnership with 3 West Springfield Public Schools and community stakeholders, we piloted a school garden program and built school gardens for each site. We have since installed 18 raised beds at each of our school partner sites.

Given the expressed interest in gardening, 2 years ago, in partnership with 3 West Springfield Public Schools and community stakeholders, we piloted a school garden program and built school gardens for each site. We have since installed 18 raised beds at each of our school partner sites.

The school garden project expanded to include a seed distribution campaign
distributing 581 home gardening kits and 2,064 seed packets to 12 community partners during the month of April. This year, we also established a partnership with the West Springfield Career Technical Education Center’s (CTEC) Horticulture Program. CTEC students grew over 550 seedlings which were distributed to families at 5 West Springfield public schools as resources for home gardening.

As we shifted our programs to respond to the pandemic, our school garden programs also increase access to locally grown food to members of our community. Every week, from last June to August, the SNAP-Ed team donated produce from the school and community gardens to a local food pantry.

We donated a total of 153 lbs. of produce, which the pantry chef used to prepare and distribute meals to 50-75 families each week, which fed 558 individuals.

We are currently working with school administrators and the town Maintenance Department to install an educational greenhouse for students. We will also pilot a Harvest of the Month Program at WSHS’s Food Lab this fall. The Food Lab provides life skills education to students, including cooking and garden-based lessons.

We will also aim to incorporate our nutrition education classes into this program.

Though the current pandemic has significantly impacted our school and community partners in West Springfield, we are hopeful for the growth opportunities of both our school garden and nutrition education programs in the upcoming year.

Interested checking out our recipes? Send an email to info@ascentria.org and we will send them to you!