Rural Health & Nutrition Initiative
The staff at Rural, Health, and Nutrition Initiative (RHNI) with Healthy Communities Coalition are slightly changing paths. Many of you already know that we had a 30,000 square-foot greenhouse where we produced fruits and vegetables for Farmers Markets, the schools, and our pantries. We have since moved out of the greenhouse and will be solely producing in our Solidarity Garden (next to Pizza Factory). If you are familiar with this garden, you will know that it is much smaller than our former greenhouse, and therefore less maintenance, planting and harvesting.
Because of the above, HCC would like to expand what was done with your Resource Coordinators (Community Health Workers – CHW’s) in schools and bring in Community Garden Workers (CGW’s) to assist the schools with their current gardens and rejuvenate gardens that are not currently fully functional. The CGW’s can work two to three times a week starting in Dayton and Silver Springs (our pilot) to alleviate some of the extensive work – loads of teachers and staff. CGW’s would continue to provide lessons to students in the school – similar to what was done by myself, my RHNI team, and Tim the Farmer for the past four months. The lessons would continue to integrate STEAM with farming know-how, including how to garden, what to plant depending on the seasons, steps to harvesting, how to market the produce grown, and how to sell their produce in school-created farmers markets if they so choose.
CGW’s will also assist with the overall running and maintenance of the gardens, including the watering and care of the school gardens during the summer months. We have been developing and working with the help of Mr. Workman, Mr. Giannotti, and Mrs. Moyle to procure grant funding to expand these services to all LCSD schools.
We envision a Rural Nevada where a data-driven approach and robust local food solutions alleviate food insecurity, where residents are educated and empowered to make decisions about their health, and where a systems approach encourages inclusive community participation in the food economy.
Healthy Communities’ Rural Health and Nutrition Initiative of Western Nevada encourages collaboration among local stakeholders to provide inclusive and equitable education around nutrition and health while improving access to food in our communities.
The RHNI Food Hub is made up of many different programs and partnerships all with a shared goal: creating a local food system for Western Nevada that is accessible, equitable, and sustainable.
What’s a food system? It’s the way that different processes influence nutrition, food, health, community development and agriculture. A food system includes the ways we produce, process, transport, and consume food.
Our belief is that a food system should serve the community and provide benefits for both producers and consumers.
Healthy Communities Coalition began in 2002 as a prevention coalition, but in 2008 as the recession tightened its grip on our community, it became clear that we needed to do more to help our neighbors who were struggling to get enough to eat. In 2010 Healthy Communities Coalition began strategically working toward improving our local food system. After a decade of service, our connections around food – our local farmers, school partners, and pantry visitors – have become our family.
In October 2020, in the midst of the global pandemic, we were presented with the incredible opportunity to lease a 30,000 square foot commercial greenhouse facility right in our hometown. In February 2021, we signed the lease on what is now the RHNI Greenhouse and future site of our Community Kitchen. This property and the potential it holds represent another step towards reaching our goal of a local food system.
Currently, Healthy Communities Coalition manages three food pantries serving nearly 3,600 people and distributing over 100,000 pounds of food each month. In partnership with Lyon County school district, we facilitate a thriving year-round school garden program at 6 elementary and middle schools. We host a farmers market during the summer months to create connections between local farmers and community members. We also promote gardening, self-sustainability, and healthy eating through our Dayton Solidarity Garden and Silver Stage Community Garden.
It’s time to do more to improve food security and sustainability in our region. That’s why we are working to improve our food system for rural Nevadans. The challenges faced by our neighbors necessitate that we continue to find new solutions to increase food access. Together, area farmers, school, agencies, non-profits, businesses and volunteers are working to strengthen our local food system – to create economic opportunities for farmers and food entrepreneurs; expand access to healthy, affordable food for local residents; and meet growing demand for healthy, local food. Food is an important part of culture and identity, and we strive to provide nourishment, but also a place to belong and grow.
Visit Community Roots Garden Center, Healthy Communities’ non-profit nursery that benefits our food hub programs.