SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (KCAU)- Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 54 million people may experience food insecurity in 2020. To help curb the issue, the Siouxland Community Health Center in South Sioux City has been growing fresh vegetables for their patients.
The Poverty Rate for the state of Nebraska is 12% but just in Dakota County, the poverty level is at 12.4 % according to the U.S. Census.
“You know many of our patients we talk to them about proper nutrition and how they need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and a lot of them say they can’t afford it,” said David Faldmo, PA at the South Sioux City Siouxland Community Health Center.
To help fight hunger and provide healthy options for families, the clinic in South Sioux City began planting roots back in 2018.
“By having this free produce for any patient that comes in, its been great. They can start experimenting with having more producers to fix for their meals,” said Faldmo.
The clinic has a garden outside their facility that grows squash, tomatoes, cabbage, and peppers during the summer months.
“They went from 200 pounds to 2,500 pounds in one year and right now they are sitting at close to 4,000,” said Brenda Sale, the project coordinator for Dakota County Voices for Food.
The organization shares a partnership with the clinic and uses them as a hub for local gardeners.
“So that we have a place for them to drop it off five days a week probably in the last week we have probably moved 5 or 600 pounds out of here because it was more than they could handle,” said Sale.
Sale says the produce collected by Dakota County Voices for Food provides fresh produce for more than 5,000 families.
“Gardner’s love to share their produce and we have created a system where they have an opportunity to do that and drop it off,” said Sale.
Siouxland Community Health says they hope the fresh vegetables make an impact on a patient’s overall health and lifestyle and their next grocery store list.
“But I think as they have more and more experience with eating fresh produce they might find ways to be able to afford it and budget better and just knowing how much it affects their health,” said Faldmo.
Organizers say they are going to be expanding their outdoor garden once again. Next season, they plan to add two more raised beds. That’ll make a total of nine.