A summer program in Centerville has children working through a local church growing food for families living below the poverty line in their own community.
“So many families with lower incomes exist… right in the middle of Centerville,” said Josie Wood, Centerville United Methodist Church children and family ministry director. “Access to fresh produce is either too expensive or too difficult to obtain. By growing our own fresh vegetables we are closing the gap and providing our neighbors with healthy foods.”
Participants in the church’s Genesis Gang, eight youths in grades three through five, started growing the produce at the beginning of May. Now participants in the church’s summer camp programs are weeding and harvesting the vegetables.
“I like that it feeds the people who don’t have food every night,” said Jackson Mires, a youth member of the church.
“I like knowing that people that don’t usually get food will get food,” said Caitlin Dubois, of Centerville. “And I like knowing people know that we care for them.”
Amy and Jack Durnbaugh, members of the church, launched the garden project.
“My wife had the idea of it, so we just volunteered my time to get the garden going and a location and it has worked out well,” said Jack Durnbaugh, of Centerville. Durnbaugh is Centerville High School East Unit Principal. “It is great way for one kids to go out side and work together. It is also a great way to provided a service for those families and individuals who are in need in the Washington Township and Centerville area.”
The program reaches 95 children in the Centerville area. The children signed up for the church’s Food4Summer program are also signed up for the free and reduced lunches program at Centerville City Schools during the school year. The program has had up to 61 children come to pick up food said Wood.
Children can pick up the food items at the church every Thursday during the summer.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 8.2 percent of Centerville residents have incomes below the federal poverty line.