Food from inmate garden goes to Second Harvest

L-R:  Jay Youngs, Davidson County Sheriff’s Office; George Killgore, University of Tennessee Extension Office; Sheriff Daron Hall; David Cloniger, Second Harvest; Jennifer Smith, Metro Public Works; Keith Barnes, Food Advocates

L-R: Jay Youngs, Davidson County Sheriff’s Office; George Killgore, University of Tennessee Extension Office; Sheriff Daron Hall; David Cloniger, Second Harvest; Jennifer Smith, Metro Public Works; Keith Barnes, Food Advocates

Nashville, TENN. – The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) inmate garden wrapped up its first season and contributed the last harvest to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall along with other community partners presented the vegetables to a Second Harvest representative last week. The inmate garden is part of DCSO’s Culinary Arts program and has already provided 50 pounds of food during the summer growing season.

“We feel it is important for inmates to be productive while incarcerated. If we can accomplish that, and at the same time, teach them a trade and have them contribute to the community, it’s a win, win,” Hall said. “The Culinary Arts program not only has the inmates cultivating a garden but it also gives the inmate an opportunity to obtain ServSafe, a food and beverage safety training certification. Having this certification makes them employable upon release and greatly reduces their chances of coming back to jail. That’s what we should all want.”

A variety of community partners have made the inmate garden a success and sheriff’s office officials hope to increase the amount of donated food next year. In fiscal year 2013, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee distributed nearly $24 million pounds of food to over 400 partnering agencies. Although the DCSO’s donation is small, according to Hall, what is learned through the entire process is meaningful.

“Our goal is for offenders, upon release, to become taxpayers and not continue to be a tax burden. Making them employable is extremely important, but it is also important for them to feel like they are contributing to a greater good. Programs such as the inmate garden do just that.” Hall concluded.