School Garden Clean-Up turns into Food Rescue Opportunity

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Spring is generally a time of new beginnings for gardens. A time to plan and plant for a successful season. However, when schools shut down due to the pandemic, many school gardens weren’t able to get off the ground this year. 


The beautiful King Elementary School Garden in Des Moines, was one of them. It sits in the back corner of the playground, surrounded by a variety of fruit trees, with 8 raised beds and garden benches for students.


Joann Muldoon, a dedicated neighbor and volunteer, continued to take care of the school’s garden throughout the summer, mainly watering the perennials and the surrounding trees. This September she recruited employees from Corteva, who have volunteered in the past, to come clean up after the derecho and harvest the many apples from the fruit trees.


Last year, EGDM worked with Joann and Al Perez, the Community School Coordinator at King, to use the apples for Iowa Local Food Day, a day that celebrates the value of Iowa grown foods. The harvested apples were sent to the Des Moines Public School’s head chef, Chad Taylor, who turned them into apple crisp for students to enjoy. The Pick-A-Better Snack Program at King also used the freshly picked apples for their lesson where students explored the garden, counted apples, and sampled them.


However, this year with DMPS continuing with online learning, the apples needed a new home. When Joann reached out, we were happy to help! After being harvested on Tuesday, by Wednesday they were out in the community. We added them to our food rescue driver Derek’s usual route. He delivered the apples plus pears we had gleaned from the Dallas County Helath Department to  Urbandale Community Action Network and to Children & Families Urban Movement in Des Moines.  


Throughout the summer EGDM has been adding fruits and vegetables onto our regular food rescue routes to supplement the Kum & Go foods delivered three days a week. We’ve added fresh produce like peppers and carrots we procured from Loffredo Fresh foods through Operation: Fresh Produce Drop. We’ve also added produce from our gleaning efforts like peaches or grapes from a local farmer who had extra. Partners like CFUM have expressed how much their students they serve love the healthy snacks while the affordable housing communities we work with enjoy bags of produce for their tenants.


At Eat Greater Des Moines we value stories like this that touch on all aspects of our work. From gleaning and food rescue to supporting school gardens, we are proud to help facilitate these connections and help get good food to our neighbors.



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Joie Probst

Joie Probst

Communications & Outreach Manager