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The Giant Co., Empower At The Bridge Establish Garden For Food Relief

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From left to right: Jessica Groves, community impact manager, The Giant Company; Amahl Pitts, CEO Harrisburg City F.A.R.M.; Kerry MacDearmid, COO, Harrisburg City F.A.R.M.; Gary Gilliam, president, Empower at the Bridge Foundation, CEO and founder, The Bridge; Julie Morales, VP of finance, The Giant Company; Governor Tom Wolf; Glennis Harris, SVP of customer experience, The Giant Company; First Lady Frances Wolf; and Thelma Shifflett, mother of Gilliam.

Empower at the Bridge Foundation and The Giant Company have partnered to feed underserved families and convert Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s food desert into a food oasis. 

At a press conference May 23, representatives of both organizations joined Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and first lady Frances Wolf to cut the ribbon and unveil the “Giant Bleacher Garden” at the old Bishop McDevitt High School, the future headquarters of The Bridge, Eco-Village in Harrisburg.

“Supporting families who struggle to put healthy food on their tables while converting food deserts like the city of Harrisburg into a food oasis is the core of our mission at Empower at The Bridge Foundation,” said Garry Gilliam, CEO of The Bridge Eco-Village.

“With the Giant Bleacher Garden at The Bridge, we start an agricultural revolution in Central Pennsylvania. Thank you to The Giant Co. and our valuable community partner Harrisburg City FARM, Governor and Mrs. Wolf and all our dedicated volunteers.”

Glennis Harris, SVP of customer experience at The Giant Co., added, “At The Giant Co., we know that we must work together to truly change the world. By joining forces with innovative organizations like Empower at the Bridge Foundation, we can make a lasting difference in the communities we serve.

“Each growing season, the Giant Bleacher Garden’s harvest will serve as a tangible symbol of our purpose, connecting families for a better future. We are so proud to be a part of this incredible project that will help eliminate hunger, heal our planet and create a better tomorrow for the community.”

The Giant Co.’s $90,000 sponsorship over two years enables the foundation to repurpose the bleachers at the former Bishop McDevitt High School football field into productive, high-yielding community gardens that will feed families.

“When we work together, communities can be revitalized and success ensured,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “Today, we celebrate a successful public-private partnership. I’m proud to have supported Empower at the Bridge Foundation with $4 million through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to revitalize Harrisburg and provide much needed resources out of the former Bishop McDevitt High School. 

“Separately, The Giant Co. is once again stepping up to feed Pennsylvania, and specifically an underserved community with The Giant Bleacher Garden. Together, these projects will change lives – and that is the power of partnerships.”

The company’s team members have been volunteering in the gardens at the abandoned school. In the months ahead, this partnership will provide food-insecure families with regular produce such as lettuces, salad mixes, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, Asian greens, winter squash, eggplant, pumpkins, peas, Bok Choi, potatoes, onions, kale, collard greens, beans, zucchini, herbs and edible flowers. The Giant Co. and Planet Bee also donated beehives to help with pollination and to produce honey.

Gilliam added that teaching neighbors to grow their own food is their ultimate goal. He went on to say that, “Food security and food localization are at the core of the solutions when we talk about children’s attention spans at school, health and wellness disparities, economic restoration and beyond. Food security and food localization need to be at the core of this revolution if we are going to create significant and meaningful change.”

For more information, visit BleacherGardenHbg.

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