– On a beautiful spring evening, members of the community gathered for the annual planting of Uniontown’s Hunger Garden Thursdsay. A joint effort by Rep. Matthew Dowling (R-Fayette/Somerset), CASA of Fayette County the Fayette Chamber of Commerce, and The Redstone Foundation, the garden helps feed area residents and raise awareness about hunger and food insecurity.
“Too often, we think of hunger as a problem in poor countries, not here in the United States and certainly not in our own back yards,” Dowling said. “The Hunger Garden has really helped to open people’s eyes about the need right here in our own communities, and it has helped provide fresh food to our neighbors in need.”
A new feature in this year’s Hunger Garden is a rain collection system made possible by a grant awarded to the Redstone Foundation in 2021. Like the garden itself, the system serves both practical and educational purposes as it provides water for the garden and educates the public about how to conserve water by collecting rainwater.
“Making a big difference in terms of helping with hunger doesn’t take a ton of land, actually just the small areas that would typically be just decorative in our parking lot can hold gardens large enough to provide much welcomed vegetables to the food bank. As an organization, we’re proud to be a partner in this effort and encourage others to follow our lead,” said Muriel Nuttall, executive director of the Fayette Chamber of Commerce and The Redstone Foundation.
The harvest from the Hunger Garden is donated each year to Fayette County Community Action’s food bank, which distributes food to an estimated 10,000 people annually.
“Maintaining an adequate level of nutrition within the county is extremely important to the Community Action Food Bank,” said James Stark, chief executive officer at FCCAA. “Since its inception, Community Action has recognized the importance of involvement with other community partners and supporters. Fayette County Community Action would like to thank Representative Matthew Dowling, CASA, the Fayette Chamber of Commerce, and the Redstone Foundation for raising public awareness of these problems through their support of the hunger garden and the Food Bank.”
Hunger can affect people from all walks of life daily. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 38 million people, including 12 million children, in the United States are food insecure. The pandemic has increased food insecurity for families who already faced hunger at high rates.
Recent data show that 23,301 (18.7%) Fayette County residents live below the poverty level. That rate increases to 23.5% for children – ages 0 through 17 years of age. The “Food Insecurity Rate” for the county is 14.6%, while the “Child Food Insecurity Rate” is 22.6%. Food insecurity is the household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.