The garden is one of several initiatives in a four-year commitment the club made last September to address hunger and wellness issues.
The programs will work in conjunction with a new cafeteria, funded this spring by a $250,000 grant from the Elkhart County Community Foundation. Adrianne Penner, associate executive director for the Boys & Girls Club of Goshen, believes their work is about exposure and education.
“We took a step back and said, ‘How can we serve food better?’” said Penner. “A lot of our kids wouldn’t be able to go into a grocery store and tell you what the produce is. If we can show them, teach them, give them experience – not just in growing, but in cooking – they’re set to make decisions for themselves.”
Despite only having space to seat 42 kids, the club serves about 360 snacks to children on a daily basis, as well as 140 dinners in the evenings to more than a third of its attendees.
In addition to a larger cafeteria, the club will build a teaching kitchen for kids to gain “cooking experience that will equip them for a lifetime,” Penner said. “Many kids cook for their siblings right now, so it’s not just about preparing them for the future; it’s also about addressing current needs.”