castro garden 072221ELGIN – State Senator Cristina Castro (D- Elgin) spent Monday afternoon harvesting vegetables to distribute to local college students who struggle with food insecurity with Elgin Community College students at the Advocate Sherman Natural Prairie and Community Garden.

"In the midst of this pandemic we have found people who have never struggled accessing food before needing to go to food pantries," Castro said. “It's amazing to see these students giving back and helping their classmates."

The community garden contains 54 garden beds and was created by the hospital in 2010 through a partnership with the University of Illinois Extension. It is available for hospital employees and community members to sustainably grow their own fruit, flowers and vegetables.

ECC students who work in the garden also run the ECC Spartan Pantry, which serves an average of 30 students per day. They post pictures of items they have harvested from the garden on social media and post signs around campus to let students know what they have available.

“I’m inspired by these young people who have such a passion for helping their fellow students while also learning the importance of gardening sustainable, healthy food,” Castro said. “Food insecurity is unfortunately a big problem, especially among young college students. Projects like this show how meaningful action can have a big impact on a community.”

About 13% of the population of the district Castro represents experience food insecurity at some point. ECC students can learn more about the Spartan Food Pantry on the ECC website. To learn more about accessing food in the Elgin area or to volunteer at or donate to a local pantry, visit the Food for Greater Elgin website.