On September 30, Partners of HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls was awarded the Hospital Award for Volunteer Excellence (HAVE Award) in the program category Community Outreach and/or Collaboration for its community garden project. The award was presented at the annual convention of the Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals, a national affiliate organization of the American Hospital Association.
The Chippewa County community needs assessment identified food insecurity as a significant problem, so Partners of HSHS St.Joseph’s Hospital, in cooperation with the hospital’s Reverence for the Earth Committee, established the Community Garden project in 2013. The project allows households in need the opportunity to grow their own vegetables to supplement their diets, and also allows volunteers to grow food and donate 100% of their harvest to area food pantries. The garden is tilled each spring, and mowing, weed control, irrigation and composting services are provided through additional community volunteers and donations.
The Community Garden has grown from a harvest of 102 pounds of produce in 2013 to nearly 3,000 pounds of produce harvested and donated in 2018. More than 4.5 tons of food was delivered to seven food pantries and a local food kitchen in Chippewa County over the past six years.
The Community Garden project was also awarded the Partners of WHA annual statewide Wisconsin Award for Volunteer Excellence (WAVE Award) in 2016.