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Community Involvement, News, Uncategorized

 Lifeline from SIUCU – Reviving a Food Donation Garden

On a crisp morning in Metropolis, Illinois, the air was filled with purpose as students from the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and staff of the University of Illinois Extension (UIE) program rallied to dismantle a beloved community food garden. The Plant a Row, Watch COPE Grow Food Donation Garden, established in 2018, had blossomed into a staple of hope for the community, providing fresh produce for those grappling with food insecurity. However, when the land it occupied changed hands, the garden faced an uncertain future.

Sowing seeds of kindness: Students from FFA lending a hand in relocating Community Food Donation Garden at Metropolis, IL Photo: Rajvee Subramanian 

Garden of giving: Volunteers worked hand in hand to move the food donation garden, sowing
the seeds of change. Metropolis, IL Photo: Rajvee Subramanian
Erin Garrett, the Extension Educator at UIE, expressed the urgency of the situation, stating, “This program is vital for supplementing fresh produce locally grown and close to home. We reached out to several people and organizations, and SIU Credit Union was quick to help. We were excited about the opportunity of working with them and the property they had available was sunnier and drier than our last location, both bonuses for us.”

Harvesting hope: Volunteers transplant the food garden at SIU Credit Union property to spread nourishment.
Photo: Rajvee Subramanian

Cassie Wright, Branch Manager of Metropolis who spearheaded the effort to bring the food garden to SIUCU premises, cultivating a culture of care and compassion.
Photo: Rajvee Subramanian.

SIU Credit Union, renowned for its commitment to community-oriented efforts, swiftly responded to the call for assistance. Cassie Wright, the Branch Manager of SIUCU at Metropolis, emphasized their dedication, saying, “When we heard about the situation facing the Food Donation Garden and C.O.P.E food pantry, we knew we had to do something to support our community. We’re proud to offer a piece of our property to ensure that this important initiative can continue to thrive and serve those in need.” Recognizing the significance of providing a stable home for the garden, Wright added, “We want them to be a permanent fixture on our grounds so that our community has a steady source of organic fresh produce.”

Planting progress: Volunteers make strides in moving the food donation garden to serve those in need. Photo: Rajvee Subramanian
The impact of this garden transcends its physical boundaries, with over $25,000 in donations and grants, along with 500 hours of volunteer time. With the Credit Union’s support, the future of the Food Donation Garden shines brighter than ever. With a new home secured, volunteers, including the Massac County FFA, are poised to continue their mission of growing fresh produce for those in need.


Planting the seeds of learning and compassion: Teachers and students teamed up to cultivate the food donation garden. Photo: Rajvee Subramanian
Ashlin Lowery, advisor of FFA, emphasized the educational and altruistic value of the endeavor, stating, “This is a great opportunity for them to learn as well as spend their time for a noble purpose.”


Harvesting knowledge, sowing kindness: Teachers, volunteers and students unite in planting a garden to feed both body and soul. Photo Courtesy: Erin Garrett

Sprouting hope: Food Donation Garden takes root, poised to offer fresh produce to those in need. Photo Courtesy: Erin Garrett
In a world where acts of kindness can transform lives, the revitalization of the Food Donation Garden stands as a testament to the power of community support. Through the unwavering dedication of SIU Credit Union and the selfless efforts of volunteers, this garden will continue to thrive as a symbol of hope, resilience, and compassion for generations to come.
To learn more about the partnership between SIU Credit Union and this food donation garden, watch the video here.

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