HARRISBURG -- The Chairmen of the Legislative Hunger Caucus and various hunger advocates joined together today for a public event to mark five successful years of the Capitol Hunger Garden and to recognize the efforts of those who have made this initiative possible. Additionally, they announced a change in leadership of the caucus beginning in 2015.
During a closing ceremony, Legislative Hunger Caucus Chairs Senator Mike Brubaker (R-36) and Representative Jake Wheatley (D-19) acknowledged the five successful years served by the Hunger Garden, an approximately 1,000 square-foot area of land adjacent to the State Capitol Building. They also praised the work of the master gardeners from the Penn State Cooperative Extension and local volunteers, as well as the support from the Department of General Services, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Feeding Pennsylvania, Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association.
“Today is a significant milestone for the Hunger Garden which for five years has proven to have a positive impact in providing nutrition to Pennsylvanians most in need. This event is testimony to the outpouring of support received for the garden which speaks volumes to the importance of promoting hunger awareness and addressing food insecurities throughout our communities,” said Brubaker. “I extend my heartfelt thanks to our master gardeners and volunteers for their selfless acts of kindness and helping to make this garden a reality.”
Wheatley said, “Volunteers and donors here and across the state do so much to reduce hunger, but as legislators we must never forget that state funding has an important role to play as well.”
Since its inception, the garden has annually produced between 700 to 800 pounds of vegetables for low-income residents and approximately 3,700 pounds for the five-year period. The vegetables are donated to food banks, pantries and local soup kitchens, such as the Downtown Daily Bread located in Harrisburg. The produce donations prepared 42,000 meals at the soup kitchen since 2010.
In addition to celebrating five years and recognizing the efforts of the garden volunteers, an announcement regarding the future leadership of the Legislative Hunger Caucus was shared. Beginning in January of 2015, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) will serve as the Senate Chair of the Caucus, as well as overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Hunger Garden.
“Since establishing the Legislative Hunger Caucus and Hunger Garden in 2008, Senator Brubaker has provided excellent vision and leadership for helping to reduce hunger needs in Pennsylvania,” Scarnati said. “I look forward to working with Representative Wheatley, members of the Caucus and the many dedicated volunteers who help make the garden a success. Together, we will continue to raise awareness and help fight hunger across our Commonwealth.”
Brubaker founded the Legislative Hunger Caucus five years ago and since that time has worked collaboratively with the Governor’s office and members of the General Assembly. The caucus is a bipartisan group of state lawmakers who partner with the community to address hunger and its underlying causes.
“I cannot think of a more appropriate person than our Senate leader to continue shepherding this caucus and its mission toward raising hunger awareness and addressing food insecurity,” added Brubaker.
Immediately following the event, master gardeners and volunteers closed the garden for the season.
For more information on the Legislative Hunger Caucus or the Capitol Hunger Garden, visit http://hungergarden.pasenategop.com/.