The Hunger Innovation Grant will be used, in part, for a mobile farm stand. The mobile farm stand will take fresh produce from MSU's Towne's Harvest Garden to seniors ages 50 and older living in rural communities in southwest Montana, according to Carmen Byker, a food and nutrition professor at MSU. The communities to be served will be announced at a later date. Service will begin this summer.
The project is known as Cultivating Accessible, Affordable, Adequate, and Appropriate Nutrition for Seniors, or CAAAANS. It is intended to help increase food security and the well-being of rural seniors, Byker said.
"Having access to healthy food, home-health services and community is important," Byker said. "We expect that many people will benefit from this program."
The project will build on several existing programs of the HRDC, including the Homemaker Program, which provides in-home health checks; the Retired Senior Volunteer Program; and Galavan Bus, which will provide a redesigned bus for transporting the food and transportation for volunteers. In addition, the Gallatin Valley Food Bank will supplement the food provided by Towne's Harvest Garden outside of the growing season.
MSU students will be involved with the project in a variety of ways. Four MSU students will be responsible for marketing, coordinating and researching the mobile farm stand. Other students will help conduct a community needs assessment and develop recipes. Dietetic interns from MSU will provide food safety training and recipes. MSU faculty members will research student learning outcomes related to developing a mobile farm stand, examine intergenerational interactions, explore how social networks help seniors access food in rural areas, and examine social, physical and psychological wellness of seniors.
Local community members who are interested in the project, as well as local businesses and organizations, are invited to serve on a planning council. The council will help determine logistics of the mobile farm stand. It will also explore ways to sustain the project beyond the life of the grant. To learn more, contact Lori Christenson of the Gallatin Valley Food Bank at firstname.lastname@example.org or Byker at email@example.com.
The grant, from the AARP Foundation, is one of 10 grants totaling $3.7 million that the foundation awarded last fall. According to AARP Foundation, the organization "is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50 by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. By coordinating responses to these issues on all four fronts at once, and supporting them with vigorous legal advocacy, the Foundation serves the unique needs of those 50 while working with local organizations nationwide to reach more people, work more efficiently and make resources go further. AARP Foundation is the charitable affiliate of AARP. Learn more at aarpfoundation.org."