This year, the N.C. Department of Public Safety prison system saw a threefold increase in the number of prisons growing and donating produce to local food banks, community pantries and social service agencies. The 20 prisons, including Johnston Correctional Institution, more than doubled the amount of fruits and vegetables sent to help fight hunger and improve health in their communities.
In the second year of the “Combating Hunger” project with Harvest Now, a national nonprofit that works with several state prison systems, 20 North Carolina prisons provided about 36,313 pounds of fresh produce to local food banks and anti-hunger organizations.
“Combating Hunger is a win-win situation for the community and our state,” said David Guice, commissioner of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice. “This is a great collaboration between the local community and the prison system. It provides inmates training for post-release job opportunities and allows inmates to give back to local communities.”
In the first growing season (2015), inmates grew and donated 16,250 pounds of fresh produce.
This year, the prisons produced fruits and vegetables, including squash, winter cabbage, collards, onions, tomatoes, watermelon, bell peppers and cucumbers.
Fresh produce is one of the most expensive and scarcest commodities in North Carolina food banks, and Harvest Now sought the state prison system’s help in providing reliable, local sources of donated fresh produce. Harvest Now donates $7,000 worth of seeds to the prisons, which work with local community colleges or agricultural extension offices for expertise and advice on planting and tending their gardens.
More information about Harvest Now is available at www.Harvest-Now.net.