Project Grows gets $250k grant from USDA for food expansion

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- Thanks to a $250,000 grant from the USDA, Project GROWS, a non-profit organization, is helping expand the way children learn and get access to food throughout Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County.

"Our goal is really to get fresh local food on to the plates of kids. All over, all kids. So we partner with the kids to do that to really reach a big number of people in a big way," said Jenna Clarke-Piersol, executive director of Project GROWS.

The primary goals of the Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program (CFP) are to meet the food needs of low-income individuals, increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their food needs, promote comprehensive responses to local food access, farm, and nutrition issues, and meet specific state, local, or neighborhood food and agricultural needs.

Piersol said they plan to get gardening education into the local boys and girls clubs.

The organization also plans to help get more food in schools throughout Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro.

"We have been doing a lot of gardening education, hands of gardening education, nutrition education," said Piersol. "And now we're going to get to combine that with access to fresh local food. So having kids come out, get their hands in the dirt at the farm and then actually eat the produce that they're helping grow, back at school."

Piersol said one day she hopes to serve all 20,000 kids in Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County.