Sustainability is something Unity College prides itself on.
That’s why the school is collaborating with a local hunger relief project.
As Joy Hollowell tells us, the program not only helps students on campus but also the Unity community.
“Our Ag program has developed closely with a community partner called Veggies for All,” says Sara Trunzo, Food and Farm Project Coordinator. “It’s a farm that has a hunger relief mission.”
Since 2009, Unity College has served as home base for Veggies For All. The project is run through Unity Barn Raisers. There are three acres on campus as well as in the community.
“These folks work very closely with local food pantries and soup kitchens to make sure that our neighbors who need more food aren’t just getting more of any kind of food, but that they’re getting healthy, fresh food, organic vegetables that might be prohibitively expensive,” explains Trunzo.
Much of the vegetables are donated to the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry in town where it’s distributed on a monthly basis. Veggies For All also supplies produce to The Open Door, a free monthly meal provided by Quaker Hill Christian Church.
“They bring them in,” explains Debbie Menzone, who runs the community table with her husband Robert every other month. They serve between 60 and 100 meals.”The people will just take bags and bag up the veggies and taken them home. Plus we’ll take them and cook with them. So it’s really a big help.”
Potatoes, winter squash, carrots, onions and cabbage are started as seeds in the college’s greenhouse. The idea is to provide vegetables that can be stored all winter long.
“We share a lot of resources. Food is only one of them,” says Trunzo. “The most valuable resource is having students engaged in the program because we use them as consultants. If we need a soil test, if we’re struggling with a pest problem, we can pull in students who are learning about pests.”
This year, close to 20,000 pounds of vegetables were harvested for the program.
“Getting students involved with a problem like hunger in a rural community really develops their critical thinking,” says Trunzo. “And that’s really where a lot of the learning takes place and why our partnership is a powerful one.”
If you’d like more information on Veggies for All, log onto veggiesforall.org