The Good Food Project is a model community garden network
An earnest desire by the management of Keller Enterprises to provide fresh, high-quality produce, reconnect people to the food they eat, educate them about good nutrition and sustainable garden practices and establish a boundary-free sense of community is the seed from which The Good Food Project sprouted.
Keller Enterprises, an Alexandria-based agricultural company with nationwide interests, made a substantial gift through the Central Louisiana Community Foundation to fund the initial years of the project. With continuing support and input from Keller Enterprises, The Food Bank of Central Louisiana administers the Good Food Project.
Started in September 2011, the Good Food Project establishes and supports community organic gardens and nutrition education programs across the Food Bank's 11 parish service region. There are only a few food banks in the United States that have a gardening program to help their clients in learning to grow their own food.
"Community gardens thrive in cities across the United States, and they make good sense for Central Louisiana," - Elisabeth Keller, of Keller Enterprises
The Good Food Project began with a 1/3 acre demonstration garden as part of the Food Bank complex. Here, gardeners of various ages and experience levels take classes, learn about and view different organic garden options, and can volunteer to cultivate, plant and harvest fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs that are distributed to Food Bank clients or local non-profits that serve food to the needy.
Since its start, The Good Food Project's impact has expanded from the demonstration garden to its current support and/or maintenance of more than 75 active school and community garden program sites in the parishes served by the Food Bank. The Project currently impacts over 17,660 children and adults. These programs teach sustainable gardening, nutrition, and healthy eating options, while providing fresh produce for participants.
The Mission of The Food Bank of Central Louisiana
To Alleviate Hunger in Central Louisiana.
The Good Food Project Vision Statement
The Good Food Project is a model community garden network that feeds, educates, and connects children with healthier food options, healthier behaviors and improved health outcomes through education and community partnerships. Good Food Project envisions a community where children have an awareness of and access to fresh, healthy food. Because A Healthy Life is a Happy Life!
What We Do?
The Good Food Project supports a culture of health in the public schools through-out Central Louisiana. The environment is one in which good health and well-being is promoted across geographic, demographic and social sectors. Good Food Project aims to foster healthy equitable communities that guide public and private decision making; giving everyone opportunities to make choices that lead to healthy lifestyles.
All Good Food Project garden program sites are learning environments offering students and adults of all ages opportunities to learn how and what to plant seasonably and sustainably. An emphasis is placed on nutrition and healthy eating options through cooking demos and healthy snack provisions provided at the regular weekly life skills classes facilitated at GFP's participating partner programs such as youth and shelter sites. As we continue to work with our neighborhood community gardens, we will integrate children and utilize cross-generational learning when possible. The Projects teaches them to grow food organically, promoting a "kindness to the earth" model that is long lasting.
We will not just feed children and adults for a day or a week, but will help them eat better, encourage healthy food choices, grown their own food, provide food for others and also remain active throughout their lifetime.
In 2017, a strategic plan for the Good Food Project was conducted with Food Bank/GFP staff, GFP Advisory Council members, community partners, and volunteers. It was the beginning of a process to determine GFP’s positive program outcomes, its vision and goals for the future. As a result of the strategic plan, a consensus was reached that GFP’s sustainable gardening program made its greatest strides working with children.
A revised program vision and mission stated that the GFP would move toward expanding its outreach to serve more youth by establishing two pilot school programs in the fall of 2018. To accomplish that goal, GFP set out to partner with the Rapides Parish School Board and to align GFP’s teaching and curriculum to the Louisiana Believe’s STEM Curriculum. An Inter-agency Agreement with The Food Bank was approved at the October 2018 RPSB meeting.
Two schools were chosen as pilots: Mabel Brasher Elementary and Phoenix Magnet Elementary. The GFP staff coordinates with each school’s administrator and lead garden teacher to present lessons that highlight specific units – Ex: A lesson in March – “Does Plastic and Other Litter Harm a Garden?” that coincides with Unit 4 – Earth and Human Activity for PreK/K students.
Each school determined best dates and times for GFP to work with their students. While some lessons are conducted in the classroom with GFP staff and Advisory Council volunteers who have passed the RPSB background check, still others are conducted outside in the school’s garden.
RPSB curriculum staff and Science Curriculum Coordinator have been encouraging and supportive of the program moving forward. It is their hope, and GFP’s as well, to have a presence in more schools as the program develops. School administrative and teacher support has been positive and enlightening.
As Good Food Project moves into the 2019-2020 school year, we will continue the pilot school program with Phoenix Magnet Elementary and Pineville Elementary. We are excited to expand this program and to work with school personnel and students to be an enhancement to the education of children in Central Louisiana.
The Good Food Project of The Food Bank of Cenla is excited about the potential for making a difference in the health and well-being of the children we serve, now and for their future and in fulfilling The Food Bank’s mission to “Alleviate Hunger in Central Louisiana.”