Growing community gardens fighting hunger in Franklin County

17 gardens sending food to people in need at 6 distribution sites

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – Thousands of people in need in Franklin County are able to feed their families this summer with the help of community gardens.

The United Way has facilitated the process, working with community giving gardens and distribution sites for the past five years.

"We don't ever set a goal each year. We don't say, 'Oh, we have to have this much,' because we have Mother Nature to contend with, so we're just excited when we have something to give back to our community," said Pamela Chitwood, who is the associate director of community impact for Franklin County with the United Way of Roanoke Valley.

Last year, just a couple dozen gardens donated a whopping 24,000 pounds of food to more than 17,000 families in Franklin County.

It’s a huge need, as according to Chitwood, more than half the county’s population struggles with hunger.

Volunteers at churches, schools and other community giving garden sites are fighting the problem from the ground up. Though the number of gardens is down five from last year, Chitwood said the 17 active gardens are churning out more product.

"We’re able to put these foods back into those homes who might possibly only getting these foods," Chitwood said.

"Especially when we have large families with lots of kids home in the summertime that need to eat. They're not getting those lunches at school; they're just very grateful," Heavenly Manna Food Bank volunteer Marjorie Baggett said.

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