February 16, 2012

Southwest Early Childhood Center Receives Grant

Grant funds will support educational program and children's gardening in Jefferson City

Missouri Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler today awarded the Southwest Early Childhood Center in Jefferson City an $800 grant to expand their educational programs. The group will use the grant funds to teach children in the Jefferson City area about gardening through five new raised beds and new library materials.

"Opportunities like this grant program help us connect the people ready to make a difference in the future of our community with the resources they need to promote agriculture through gardening and enjoying fresh produce," said Dr. Hagler.

The grant will be used to purchase supplies needed to construct the raised beds, as well as 18 books for their Garden Library. With assistance from Lincoln University and volunteers from area Master Gardeners, the Center's raised beds should be completed and ready to use this spring. The project is expected to reach over 1600 children in Jefferson City and surrounding communities.

The Southwest Early Childhood Center plans to include gardening in their curriculum to foster observation and creative thinking in the children and their families, as well as to increase their interest in eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

This is the first year for the Local Foods Grants, which are supported by Missouri's Agriculture Protection Fund. The grant funds may be used for the creation of a farmers' market, the expansion of an urban or community garden, to promote local food efforts and/or youth initiatives that combat hunger, poor nutrition and obesity in collaboration with community gardens or farmers' markets.

To learn more about the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit the Department online at http://www.mda.mo.gov.