ROCK HILL, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) – Winthrop University’s Human Nutrition Department is planting a seed they hope will grow community interest. It’s hosting weekly markets, along with a community pantry and garden to promote healthy eating and to address food insecurities in the area.
Winthrop University’s Human Nutrition Department leaders say they’ve seen an increase in food insecurity on campus and in Rock Hill’s community — largely in-part due to the pandemic. Already making plans and doing research for an on campus market before the pandemic, now leaders saying they’ve seen growing interest in the free produce they have to offer.
Wanda Koszewski, Department Chair and Professor of Human Nutrition at Winthrop, says, “Based on those initiatives we have students continuing to research, looking at resiliency factors, we asked through surveys how they felt we should address the issue on campus. So a couple of things they want it is a community garden… And we get free produce out to faculty, staff, and students and that was popular over the summer. So, all of those things are just helping our students get access to healthy food.”
Winthrop University leaders saying that they have a large number of students and even some staff that are food insecure and they’re looking to resolve that issue with garden plots, planted in just the last year.
Assistant Professor at Winthrop, Dr. Ashley Licata, says, “Our students are learning so much about nutrition in the science of nutrition but we want them to be involved in the hands-on process of actually growing the food itself. So, we think it’s really important for them to really see the process from the ground to the actual clinical environment.”
Getting outside into the garden, also means taking a look inside, at the benefits of the foods being grown. Assistant Professor, Dr. Jessie Hoffman who researches gut health, explains more.
Dr. Hoffman, says, “It’s been shown that perpetually on a college campuses and throughout the US that individuals eat much below the recommended levels of fiber. So, one of our really big goals with the garden is to be able to provide not only access to nutritious fruits and vegetables, but things that are also high in fiber that can also support gut health as well.”
Leaders say access to healthier foods can get expensive but can have large positive impacts on academic and professional success. They want the community to know what’s available.
“Part of being a community member is helping people within your community and that’s kind of our overall thing is we want people to know that we’re here we care about them and we’re here to help,” says Koszewski.
In the video above, CN2’s Rachel Richardson learning about the need on campus and in our area.