Workshop teaches students about food insecurity

Published 9:03 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Neighborhood Harvest (TNH), a Suffolk-based food delivery service and hydroponic farm, hosted a group of students from Norfolk Academy last week, teaching them about the process and benefits of hydroponics as well as how the organization is addressing food insecurity. 

The foundation of TNH’s strategy is partnering with local agencies like Greater Works and Access College Foundation. Greater Works operates a food pantry called The House of Bread, which is located adjacent to the TNH offices. The leadership began working together through a simple need: storage and freezer space. 

By helping Greater Works, TNH learned about the nutrition gap in the business’s neighborhood, like the lack of affordable grocery stores nearby, transportation to reach those stores and the needs that agencies like the food bank cannot always fill. TNH began providing The House of Bread with its extra produce each week, some coming from Virginia farm partners and some straight from its hydroponic greenhouse. 

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The workshop day began at the greenhouse, where students helped plant rows of new crops and learned how the hydroponic process works, continually moving water across the root systems of plants. 

The students “absolutely loved planting,” said THN’s Heather Thompson, who helped plan and direct the event.

Students then toured the pack house, learning how produce is sorted and packaged with care before going to customer homes, The House of Bread and to families who are part of THN’s free delivery program with Access College Foundation. 

Finally, the students toured The House of Bread, learning how client choice makes a real difference to families in need. The market-style pantry allows people to select the foods they need and enjoy based on the number of family members they feed regularly, all at no cost. 

“What client choice does is it gives people their dignity back,” said Valerie Baker, whose family, church and volunteers have operated the food pantry since January. 

“There’s no reason for anybody to be hungry in our area,” she said. 

THN supports that sentiment, continuing its community partnerships and inviting its customer base to join the effort by donating fresh produce online. 

For information, visit TheNeighborhoodHarvest.com or on Facebook and Instagram @theneighborhoodharvest. 

For more information about Greater Works, contact Baker at 757-719-9836 or gwcom4god@gmail.com.