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College Station church starts community garden to help neighbors

A fellow church lends a helping hand to make it possible
Posted at 1:32 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 14:32:19-05

BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — New Victory Temple Church in College Station is just about ready to start its own community garden.

"I'm just excited to see what God is going to do because it's definitely obvious that it's not us. It's him doing it," Renee Alsandor, minster of New Victory Temple Church said.

Before the garden's inception, Renee noticed three issues in the neighborhood: One was the limited access to fresh produce. Her father traveled back and forth from Spring to a food pantry to deliver food to a church member with severe health issues.

"By the time you get it, from distribution centers, it's just not as fresh. And when I saw it, I thought, I would rather grow her some food so she could have fresh food and it was rare for her to have fresh food," Alsandor said.

According to the 2019 Brazos Valley Regional Health Assessment Report, Brazos County scores a low Food Environment Index- with 5.7 on a one to 10 scale.

This number indicates the percentage of the population who is low income and has limited access to a grocery store and experiences food insecurity is higher in Brazos County than the state and national index.

Despite the lack of access, Renee noticed several church members struggled with other health issues including diabetes and obesity.

Every three years the Brazos Valley Health Coalition and Texas A&M Center for Community Health Development compile a Community Health Status Assessment.

Results show that Brazos County has a high obesity rate compared to the state. Comparing 2019 data to 2016 shows numbers are not improving.

"So, we are still continuing to see an increase in our obesity here in our community," Sara Mendez, of the Brazos County Health Department said.

The third major issue Renee observed in her congregation: the children don't eat vegetables.

"And I would tell them 'If you don't eat vegetables you're going to die. And they were like 'oh, I'll never eat vegetables,” Alsandor said.

Renee wanted to start the garden two years ago but quickly realized New Victory didn't have all the resources to make it happen right away. Thankfully, fellow church, Christ United Methodist helped weed out the roadblocks.

Sally McKee, Christ United Methodist Church "When we heard about their vision for their community, we just wanted to jump in there and help them, because this is all of our community."
Hoping the kids who develop their own green thumb will see vegetables in a new light.

"Number one is what this church is trying. Kids can grow their own vegetables and work through that whole thing. That makes them so much more rewarding, and so that they can really see the value in that. And it's exciting to eat what they have been working hard for," Dr. Christopher Knoop, Family Medicine Doctor at Baylor Scott and White said.

Tyresha Williams grew up in the neighborhood and most of her family make up the church.

"I like to see them healthy, and doing well, but also not getting in trouble, staying in trouble, but actually doing something that is worth their time," Tyresha Williams, a member of New Victory Temple Church said.

The community garden will honor Roosevelt Moore. He was known in the community for giving to those in need with his own garden.

There will be a master gardener, and a nutritionist available to help the garden thrive. The two churches plan to start planting in February.