Johnston Correctional Institution in Smithfield was one of 20 North Carolina Department of Public Safety prison facilities growing and donating produce to local food banks, community pantries and social service organizations this year. The facilities more than doubled the amount of fruits and vegetables sent to help fight hunger and improve health in their communities.
In its second year of the “Combating Hunger” project with Harvest Now, a national non-profit that works with several state prison systems 36,313 pounds of fresh produce was grown and shipped to local food banks and anti-hunger organizations.
“Combating Hunger is a win-win situation for the community and our state,” said David Guice, commissioner of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice. “This is a great collaboration between the local community and the prison system. It provides inmates training for post-release job opportunities and allows inmates to give back to local communities.”
In 2015 in the first growing season inmates grew and donated 16,250 pounds of fresh produce.
Fresh produce is one of the most expensive and scarcest commodities in North Carolina food banks, and Harvest Now sought the NCDPS prison system’s help in providing reliable, local sources of donated fresh produce. Harvest Now donates $7,000 worth of seeds to the prisons and CRV centers, and the facilities work with local community colleges or agricultural extension offices for expertise and advice on planting and tending their gardens.