Dutchess County Hosts Healthiest Cities & Counties Open House
Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro joined community partners today at the Hudson Valley Community Center to host students from the Poughkeepsie City School District and senior citizens from the Dutchess County Office for the Aging to take part in Dutchess County’s award-winning microgreens nutrition project.
While equitable access to nutritious food is an obstacle for many Americans, Dutchess County is addressing the issues by educating two vulnerable populations – inner-city children and local senior citizens – about nutrition and supplementing their diets with nutrient-dense microgreens. In future stages, the innovative program will employ eligible ex-offenders to grow the microgreens, providing job-training skills, as well as entrepreneurial opportunities – making the project sustainable on several levels.
County Executive Molinaro said, “As part of Dutchess County’s bold goal of becoming New York’s healthiest county, we have undertaken a successful program to bring nutrition to those residents who need it most. Just in its infancy, our innovative microgreens project has already received national recognition and backing. We’re confident in the coming months and years, it will yield healthy outcomes that can be replicated throughout the county, state and nation. We thank our local partners for their support, and we look to laud them for their dedication to the health of our neighbors throughout Dutchess County.”
Dutchess County has already received a $10,000 seed grant as part of the national Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, a program administered by the Aetna Foundation, American Public Health Foundation and the National Association of Counties. As a finalist in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, Dutchess County is now in the running for a $500,000 grand prize or one of several $50,000 runner-up prizes, which will be awarded in 2018.
The project has the support of numerous local organizations, including the Dyson Foundation, Health Quest and Rose & Kiernan Insurance, who have agreed to partner with Dutchess County, providing financial backing for the program.
Among today’s activities, students from the Poughkeepsie City School District and seniors who take part in Dutchess County Office for the Aging’s congregate meal program planted and harvested microgreens, leaving with their own plants to continue the learning and health benefits at home.
Brud Hodgkins, owner of the Indoor Organic Gardens of Poughkeepsie, said, “We’re proud to collaborate with Dutchess County and our fellow partners to bring about a meaningful change in our community – not only nutritionally, but socially and economically, as it can provide opportunities for countless Dutchess County residents to become self-sufficient. We look forward to other municipalities following our lead to bring a similarly beneficial program to their communities.”