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Nonprofit Not Letting Pandemic Stop Growth of Food and Futures

Updated: May 29

CLEVELAND, Ohio — With school out of session, it makes it a lot harder for many children to have access any foods— let alone healthy ones. But one Ohio woman is trying to change that.


What You Need To Know


Food Strong is a nonprofit with a mission to strengthen local communities through fresh local foods


The organization is reaching out to students through online videos teaching them about growing food and nutrition


They will be ready to welcome kids to a new learning garden program starting in June


Not only does Sara Continenza have a passion for gardening, she loves to share it too.

"At my previous employment, I had met children that couldn’t even identify celery or carrots. That to me was a big wake up call that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done."

Spectrum News 1 met Continenza last year at Iowa-Maple Elementary School, teaching students about healthy eating and growing fresh food— something more difficult to do because of COVID-19.

"Well, it was heartbreaking, to say the least. We had so many different gardens at different schools that we were looking to start. We had a lot of partnerships growing and expanding and when we found out that the schools would be closed for the rest of the school year, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to do any gardens all summer," Continenza said.

But that doesn’t mean Continenza is taking a break. When Continenza isn’t in the garden, she’s using technology as a way of connecting with her students. She’s posting videos online about healthy eating, and growing food, hoping to reach low income communities hit hard by the crisis.

"The communities we serve, they already face issues with transportation, food security, poverty, and what we’ve seen with this new circumstance that has depressed our economy even further, is that food insecurity is at an all time high," she said.

And Continenza is preparing for the future. Right across from the Coit Road Farmer's Market in East Cleveland, is the location for a new learning garden. Continenza says it will be ready to welcome kids starting in June, for a garden program— keeping kids united while keeping them safe.

"We’re gonna be doing whatever we can to keep these kids coming together, albeit in small groups, in a safe, socially distant way, so that we can still have these kids become active, grow their own food and spend time with one another, since they didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to each other before the school closed," said Continenza.

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