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Federal Employees Harvest Healthy Crops to Support Local Food Pantry

Employees workining in the Denver Federal Center Garden />

October 19, 2011
Sally Mayberry, 303-236-2583
sally.mayberry@gsa.gov

DENVER – Federal employees at the Denver Federal Center are demonstrating their civic responsibility by harvesting a nearby community garden that has already donated more than 230 pounds of fresh, healthy food to a local food pantry. Food banks and pantries are closing across Colorado.  With demand for food on a steady climb, cuts in funding make it more crucial than ever for communities to rally and make donations.

“Times are tough for many people and being able to reclaim unused land on our campus and provide fresh produce to the Action Center is a wonderful way for federal employees to support the community we work in," said Susan Damour, GSA Regional Administrator.

The garden, located next door to a childcare facility, also educates the 110 children at Clever Kids Learning Center on healthier lifestyles by allowing the toddler groups to help plant and water vegetables throughout the summer.  They watched the plants grow and helped harvest them, learning important nutritional lessons first hand.

The People’s Garden has five raised boxes full of soil and through generous seed donations the garden produced more than 230 pounds of fresh produce just this year.  All of which has been delivered to the neighboring Action Center in Lakewood.  Radishes, carrots, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, salad mix, corn and squash were picked and distributed in a five-day food supply to the community’s most needy neighbors.

In February 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a “People’s Garden Initiative,” challenging federal employees to establish community gardens across the country. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), Rural Development (RD), and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) moved to the DFC that same year and through interagency collaboration, unused land at the DFC that was reclaimed and developed it into a community garden. “RD, NRCS, and FSA work very closely together on a number of projects, so we were excited to be able to continue that tradition while working on such a fun and non-traditional project like the garden.  We were also excited to learn that our partnership was expanding to include the Food and Nutrition Service, states Petra Barnes Walker, NRCS State Public Information Officer, Denver, CO.”   

Since 2009, employees have harvested and donated more than 320 pounds of fresh produce to the Action Center. "The Action Center is extremely grateful to the People's Garden and USDA for their efforts to help us feed the hungry in our community,” said Mag Strittmatter Executive Director of the Action Center.  “This is a remarkable effort that demonstrates heart and strong community collaboration."
  
For more information about the DFC, please become a fan at www.facebook.com/DenverFederalCenter

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As the federal government's workplace solutions provider, the U.S. General Services Administration works to foster an effective, sustainable and transparent government for the American people. GSA’s expertise in government workplace solutions includes:

• Effective management of government assets including more than 9,600 government-owned or leased buildings and 215,000 vehicles in the federal fleet, and preservation of historic federal properties;
• Leveraging the government’s buying power through responsible acquisition of products and services making up approximately 14 percent of the government’s total procurement dollars;
• Providing innovative technology solutions to enhance government efficiency and increase citizen engagement; and,
• Promoting responsible use of federal resources through development of governmentwide policies ranging from federal travel to property and management practices.

About the Action Center (www.theactioncenterco.org):

Since 1968, the Action Center, a human-services non-profit, has provided an immediate response to basic human needs while promoting pathways to self-sufficiency through intervention, prevention and connection. Annually, the Action Center provides assistance to more than 28,000 Jefferson County residents. Services to the community include a food pantry, clothing bank, 22-bed homeless shelter, transportation, utility assistance and much more. With the help of 80 volunteers a day and more than 2,700 yearly, the Action Center gives help, provides hope and builds dignity while breaking the cycle of poverty. For more information, please call 303.237.7704 or visit us at www.theactioncenterco.org.