Success StorySNAP-Ed assist with Shepherd’s Shelter Victory Garden



SNAP-Ed assist with Shepherd’s Shelter Victory Garden

Author: Jessica Reed

Planning Unit: KSU Administration

Major Program: Nutrition and Food Systems General

Outcome: Intermediate Outcome

SNAP-Ed assist with Shepherd’s Shelter Victory Garden

When the pandemic hit in 2020 the Governor challenged Kentucky Extension and Nutrition Education Program to help promote Victory Gardens in Kentucky. Victory Gardens were started during the World Wars to help decrease the effect of food rations ad increase fresh food supply. During the pandemic uncertainty of how long the shutdown was going to be, many started hoarding food and supplies leading to a shortage (4). Shepherd Shelter Treatment Center in Mount Sterling was way ahead of the game, since the SNAP-Ed Nutrition Program at Kentucky State University had helped them implement a garden in 2018, and it continues to expand each year with the assistance of the SNAP-Ed program. Shepherd’s Shelter is an all-male Rehabilitation Center that started out as a homeless shelter, but soon realized the increase in the homeless population was due to the increase of drug and alcohol addiction (3). Kentucky is one 4 states in the Appalachia region with the highest rate of opioid misuse and overdose deaths than other parts of the country (5). Proper nutrition and hydration are key to the substance abuse healing process because they help restore physical and mental health and improve the chance of recovery (1). Life skills is one important training a person in recovery needs to be successful in their recovery efforts and return to society, Shepherd Shelter has partnered with Montgomery County KSU SNAP-Ed Program since it began offering the “Healthy Choice for Everybody” classes in 2017 to offer lessons on life skills and nutrition.  The Classes are research-tested direct education intervention that teaches planning nutritious meals on limited budgets, safe food-handling practices, food preparation skills needed for a healthy lifestyle and adopting a physically active lifestyle (6). Gardening is another skills that helps those recovering success, gardening and recovery go hand in hand, gardening helps improve the diet which has been neglected during the addiction, and gardening is way the recovering addict can get more exercise, relief stress, decrease blood pressure, depression and anxiety and boost the immune system (2). Shepherd’s Shelter wanted to continue this partnership during the pandemic, so classes continued virtually. 

The SNAP-Ed Program Assistant would drop off supplies needed for the garden at the door to the facility and offer advice over the phone. The garden started off in 2018 at 30’ X 40’ and has expanded to 40’ X 70’ in 2021. During the pandemic the facility had approximately 20 males in recovery. It was the guys’ responsibility to care for the garden which included planting, maintaining the plants to yield produce and harvesting the fruits and vegetables. They also learned from the SNAP-Ed weekly program, the importance of consuming fruits and vegetables into their daily meals and to follow MyPlate recommendations for their calorie intake. 

The picture below shows the guys cutting fresh strawberries to use in the smoothie recipe shared with them in class. The produce from the garden is used in the meals at the facility prepared by guys in recovery. In addition to the strawberries, onions, green beans, corn, peppers, tomatoes, pumpkin, watermelon, cantaloupe and cucumbers are some of the produce grown at the facility along with some fruit trees that have been planted. Graduates of the “Healthy Choice for Everybody” classes showed improvement in one or more diet quality of eating fruits, vegetables, red and orange vegetables, dark green vegetable, drinking less regular soda, drinking less fruit punch and teas, as well as improvement with physical activity. Growing a garden can help with budgeting, reducing salt and sugar in the daily diets, eating lower calories, increases  outdoor exercise, increase vitamin D, and be a natural stress reliever. During the summer of 2020, twelve guys at Shepherd’s Shelter graduated from the classes and gained knowledge on gardening. These twelve men will be able to continue to make changes to improve their overall health. They will be able to take their knowledge gained from the SNAP-Ed program back into their individual homes once leaving the recovery center and have knowledge on how to plant their own Victory Garden. SNAP-Ed plans to continue to offer classes and gardening advice to the next group of men at the Shelter. 

 

Preparing the ground for planting Growing                         Garden Growing 

 

  Growing Strawberries

Developing Skills, Producing Food, and a Healthy Mindset   

   Slicing the harvested strawberries to use in smoothie.                                                                    

                                                                                                     

Sources:

  1. https://www.todaysdietitian.com//120914p44.shtml
  2. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/info/how-gardening-helps-in-recovery.htm
  3. https://shepherdsshelter.com/
  4. https://www.kentuckytoday.com/state/kentucky-officials-promoting-growing-victory-gardens
  5. https://healthinappalachia.org/issue-briefs/opioid-misuse/
  6. https://kynep.ca.uky.edu/HCEB 








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