Community Support Gives Youth Farmers the Skills to Create a Healthier, Hunger Free Community

By Published On: January 3rd, 2019

Our Youth Farm Coordinator, Emily Griffith, and President, Rick Gaupo, were proud to receive a donation from AT&T in December. Because of you and business like AT&T, the Food Share’s Youth Farm is able to offer valuable work experience and service leadership opportunities to local teens by engaging them in growing food for their neighbors in need.

In 2018, all of the Youth Farmers were offered a free beginner’s gardening course and a small plot of their own on the farm.

Store Manager, Nick Fertitta (left) presents Rick Gaupo and Emily Griffith of Marion Polk Food Share with a donation check for the Youth Farm.

“My first job was working on a farm.  So I know first-hand that it’s a great way for young people to learn job skills.  On a farm, it’s really easy to see that the effort you put into it determines what you get back,” Nick Fertitta, local AT&T Store Manager, said.

By weight, the Youth Farm yielded more produce than in any year to date, with a total of more than 18,000 pounds harvested and distributed to our hungry neighbors.

The majority of this fresh produce is grown for patients with diet related illness who participate in the Food Share’s Farm Share Rx program. 92% of patients reported that they felt their health had improved over the course of the 14-week program.

Youth Farmers provide cooking and storage tips for the patients and their family members, as well as weekly tastings and recipes.

Support from community partners, including AT&T, ensures that students have the opportunity to engage with various community members.  This allows the students to gain confidence and important work skills.

Workshops and field trips on topics as varied as soil science and strawberry propagation to shopping on a budget and pickling green beans were offered. Youth Farmers also work with a variety of volunteer groups: businesses, community groups and schools.

Freshly picked, these strawberries filled many pints that went home with Farm Share patients.

We are so grateful for these gifts! This support brings health and hope to our community and creates leaders who understand the importance of nutrition and sustainability. Each year, more than 30 teens are able to participate in this life changing work.

“AT&T’s commitment to helping students succeed in school and work is making our community a better place,” said Rick Gaupo, President of Marion Polk Food Share.

Our Youth Farmers are tomorrow’s leaders who will advocate and work to live in a community where hunger is no longer a reality because everyone has enough healthy food to eat.