THE ISSUE

Oregon is the among the hungriest states in the nation. One in five people in Oregon receives food stamps and one in three people in Lane County are eligible to receive a food box.[1] From 2008 to 2011, the percentage of the state’s general population receiving Food Stamp Assistance rose from 12.21 percent to 19.77 percent.[2] The rising need for food assistance in the general population is a strong indicator for the rising rate of food insecurity among Latino families.

“Food insecurity among Latinos in Oregon is approximately 28 percent, more than twice the rate for non-Latinos.” — Mark Edwards, Oregon State University

This higher rate of food insecurity can be largely attributed to the low wages that Latino individuals earn, underemployment and unemployment.

THE IDEA

Offering people the opportunity and instruction to grow their own food is the most effective way to combat hunger and for people to put more nutritious food on the table. The Center for Civic Partnership writes, “one aspect of food security is that people can acquire food in socially acceptable ways, without having to resort to relying on emergency food supplies, scavenging or stealing…community gardens are on popular strategy that can help address the need for safe, nutritious food.” Over the last 15 years, the families in our programs have echoed these claims. Families have mentioned numerous benefits, including: spending time with family, increased civic participation within the broader community, economic savings decreased stress, higher self-esteem, and increased connections to other community programs and resources.

ORGANIC GARDEN PROGRAM

Huerto de la Familia’s holistic and deeply personal approach offers Latino families the means, education and tools to increase their health, food security and economic self-sufficiency through organic gardening in community gardens throughout Eugene. Our program offers Latino families organic gardening education and food preservation workshops. Our gardening education is in the form of a six-week organic gardening class called Siembra La Cena (Seed-to-Supper.) All of our classes are taught in Spanish.

By having access to growing space in community garden plots and training, families are able to grow nutritious and culturally appropriate food and save money on their grocery bills. Huerto de la Familia provides member families with organic plant starts, seeds, tools and other gardening materials. We subsidize garden plots at six locations throughout Eugene and Springfield:

  • Churchill Community Garden
  • Skinner City Farm
  • Santa Clara Community Garden at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church
  • Gamebird Community Garden
  • Bountiful Bethel Community Garden
  • Wesley Methodist Church

Through our Organic Garden Program, the health of our member families is no longer limited by what stores they can access, what foods those stores carry, the price of produce, or the inavailability of culturally appropriate foods. They have the opportunity to grow healthy and culturally appropriate food and to use the garden to teach cultural heritage to their children.

We also host an annual Health Clinic (Dia de Salud) that offers health screenings, health information and doctor visits at no-cost to families in the community.  Dia de Salud is a collaboration with numerous community based entities including MAPS (Minority Association of Pre-Med Students) at University of Oregon and Volunteers in Medicine.

Resources: 1. Food for Lane County 2. Oregon State University, Oregon County Monitor