The OSF HealthCare Mission to serve with the greatest care and love extends beyond when people are sick or hurt. It means working with communities to keep residents healthy.
That’s why OSF HealthCare offers community gardens in Ottawa, Streator and Mendota. Community gardens are an opportunity to address food insecurity in communities, and provide healthy foods to local pantries to reach those who are in need.
Recently, OSF HealthCare Saint Elizabeth Medical Center (Ottawa) harvested 640 pounds of produce, OSF HealthCare Saint Paul Medical Center (Mendota) produced 1,175 pounds and OSF Center for Health - Streator yielded 713 pounds. The produce is donated to local food pantries, and may be offered in OSF cafeterias to use as a healthy eating and wellness initiative.
The produce is planted every spring and organized by Mission Partners (OSF employees) and volunteer community members who donate their time and talent to help plant, water, weed, harvest, and build. In the past, volunteers have planted tomatoes, peppers, green beans, potatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, squash, melons, onions and more.
“I am so proud of the love and care our Mission Partners and volunteers give our community gardens,” said Dawn Trompeter, president, OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center and OSF Saint Paul Medical Center. “The gardens provide people an opportunity to gain gardening knowledge, empowering them to do it on their own. They also educate people about nutrition, food preparation and making healthier dietary decisions.”
This was the fourth year for the garden at OSF Saint Paul, which produced the largest return in produce yet. The produce is offered to Mission Partners and for patient meals and donated to the Mendota Area Christian Food Pantry. “This year, OSF Saint Paul received a $7,500 grant from the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network and added four more raised beds and five fruit trees to expand our variety and help the community even more,” said Marisa Kibble, senior financial analyst and community gardens volunteer for OSF Saint Paul.
The gardens are funded by donations made to the OSF HealthCare Foundation at each location. For more information on donating, contact Cherie Reynolds, director of development, at (815) 431-5538.