Franciscan Health Michigan City is a key sponsor in an effort to help limited-income families eat healthier.
The project, called Heathy Eating Active Living (H.E.A.L) gardens of Michigan City, is being done in conjunction with the local Citizens Concerned for the Homeless Inc. organization.
June 9 was the first day families were able to plant gardens at Walker Park, 900 Walker St., with their choice of plants, among them tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots. The garden’s purpose is to increase nutrition and reduce childhood obesity, according to Caroline Arnett, Purdue Extension community wellness coordinator, who started the project.
There are eight you-pick garden beds located nearest to the sidewalk that are available for Michigan City residents. There is no cost, but residents are asked to select only as much food as they would need for a few days.
“This program has one goal and that’s to help Michigan City become an even healthier place to live. We believe the implementation of community gardens in low-income neighborhoods is a strategic way to work toward that goal. Franciscan Health financial and educational support has been critical in our planning process and has helped us create structure to make the program long-term. We wouldn’t want to plan a project this big without them,” Arnett said.
Arnett said she came up with the garden idea following a community assessment she does yearly with organizations in La Porte County
“Franciscan Health provided a meeting place to help this large project get implemented and applied for a grant to bring a mobile kitchen to the garden so nutrition classes could be taught onsite, and to help us pay a garden manager.” Arnett said.
Mandi Eggert, Franciscan Health Michigan City manager of service excellence and telecommunications, said, “I donated my time on behalf of the hospital to assist with the initial planting of the garden and to obtain a mobile kitchen.”