(KMOV.com) – Missouri offenders donated more than 130 tons of fresh produce to organizations in need. Restorative Justice Garden operates without taxpayer dollars under Missouri’s Department of Corrections; the program provides local food pantries, churches and shelters with fruits and vegetables grown within state correction centers.
Restorative Justice Garden not only aids those in need, but gives offenders the opportunity to give back, “It is truly amazing that so many food pantries and individuals all across the state have come to depend on the produce that comes from these gardens”, said George A. Lombardi, director of the Missouri Department of Corrections. “Restorative Justice programs like this one provide offenders the means to help repay their debt to society, while teaching them the value of compassion, a quality many of them lack in their lives.”
Of Missouri’s 21 corrections centers, Boonville was named top producer for the second year in a row with more than 34 tons of produce donated. Farmington came in at a close second with 32 tons.
“Thank you so much for your thoughtful contribution of your organization’s food harvest to Scott County residents,” said Brenda Robinson-Echols of the Lincoln University Cooperative Extension After School Program in Sikeston, Missouri after receiving produce from the Southeast Correctional Center. “You have joined our efforts to provide families with resources to combat hunger and promote healthy eating habits. Your program helps to meet the needs of many residents who are on a limited budget or fixed income.”
Offenders start cultivating the garden plots in April, with harvesting beginning around July and ends in late fall. All of the seeds and plants for the gardens are donated to the institutions, and in return, all the produce grown is then donated.