Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

AmeriCorps Volunteers Help Wheeling Organization 'Grow'

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

AmeriCorps Volunteers Help Wheeling Organization 'Grow'

Article excerpt

WHEELING, W.Va. - A small army of AmeriCorps members are on their way to Wheeling to help a local organization further its mission of putting fresh, locally grown food on area residents' plates. Grow Ohio Valley is one of 13 West Virginia nonprofit organizations that will receive a total of $5.8 million of AmeriCorps grant funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps and other volunteering and service programs.

Grow Ohio Valley's grant will be used to improve access to fresh, locally grown produce in distressed neighborhoods in Brooke, Marshall and Ohio counties.

The grant will provide funding for 17 AmeriCorps members who will work for the organization.

Ken Peralta, executive director of Grow Ohio Valley, said the grant will allow the organization to bring people in who are dedicated to Grow Ohio Valley's mission.

"We're so excited about this grant. It's a game-changer, I think, in a way, to be able to have so many people focused on improving food access and improving the food systems in our region, Peralta said.

According to Peralta, these new AmeriCorps members will contribute to specific projects such as developing school gardens where fresh produce can be grown for students to eat, and planning "food justice immersion trips for college students.

AmeriCorps members will also help with the actual growing of produce and operation of the mobile farmers' market that brings produce to underserved areas.

Peralta said Grow Ohio Valley hopes to recruit locally and nationally in order to provide opportunities to West Virginians while also bringing in new ideas and attracting people to Wheeling.

He said many of Wheeling's community leaders have been members of AmeriCorps and other national service organizations.

"These are great programs that attract really quality leaders and I'm excited to groom a new generation of leaders through Grow Ohio Valley, he said.

Heather Foster, executive director of Volunteer West Virginia, said her organization has focused a lot of its recent work around improving health outcomes. …

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