VSU/Sabra Partner to Address the Needs of Communities Living in Food Deserts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  June 12, 2018

VSU—Michelle Olgers, College of Agriculture Director of Marketing & Communications, 804-304-4200 (cell), molgers@vsu.edu

Sabra Ilya Welfeld, Seymour PR, 917-848-2083, ilya@seymourpr.com

Sabra and VSU Tackle Food Security Issues Through Construction of Urban Garden at Ettrick’s Summerseat Property

Monday, June 11, about 15 Sabra Dipping Company employees joined staff and faculty at Virginia State University (VSU) to build the first phase of the Summerseat Urban Garden Project. The project is an initiative of VSU’s Sustainable and Urban Agriculture Cooperative  Extension Program and part of Sabra’s Plants with a Purpose program, which addresses the needs of communities living in food deserts.  

The Summerseat Urban Garden Project is designed to transform the 2.2-acre historic land parcel known as Summerseat into a food and agricultural hub to address food security issues within local schools and communities, enhance nutrition and food education, and bring people together. Summerseat is located on the VSU campus at the corner of Chesterfield Avenue and River Road, across from Ettrick Elementary School and next to VSU’s Multipurpose Center.

The volunteers, who also included several members of the Ettrick community, constructed 10 raised bed gardens that included shorter ones accessible to children and those in wheelchairs and waist-high beds, providing easy access for those who find it difficult to bend over. The beds will hold a wide variety of crops throughout the growing season. The purpose of the raised beds gardens is twofold: to teach members of the community how to successfully grow their own healthy food, as well as to harvest the crops for donation to food distribution centers for residents in and around Ettrick who have low access issues to fresh and nutritious food.

Later phases of the Summerseat Urban Garden Project may include a certified kitchen, nutrition and cooking classes, the development of a historical museum within the Summerseat building and K-12 educational programs

Four years after publishing the ground-breaking study, ‘Food Deserts in Virginia,’ VSU continues to identify ways to raise awareness of the commonwealth’s food security issues and to provide fresh, affordable food to all residents. Sabra Dipping Company shares a similar commitment and believes that everyone should have ready and affordable access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Both entities are confident that together they will be able to create a recreational, historical and productive green space at Summerseat that will provide maximum benefits to the public.

In addition to the Summerseat collaboration, Sabra is providing tuition assistance for students of VSU’s Sustainable Urban Agriculture Certification Course, which aims to increase competence and marketability for a career in urban agriculture. Students will have an opportunity to apply their skills in Sabra’s 340-square-foot employee workshare garden installed on the Sabra campus in Colonial Heights.   

About Sabra Dipping Company

Sabra Dipping Company is the leader in the Fresh Dips category and producer of America’s top-selling hummus. Sabra’s award-winning products offer consumers fresh new ways of eating and connecting and include more than a dozen flavors of hummus and a range of refrigerated dips including guacamole. Sabra’s range of offerings includes items that are vegetarian, organic, gluten-free, kosher, vegan and made without genetically engineered ingredients and can be found nationwide in club stores, supermarkets, specialty retailers and through food service. Sabra operates a gold LEED certified factory in Virginia. Find Sabra at www.sabra.comwww.youtube.com/sabrawww.facebook.com/sabrawww.instagram.com/sabra,www.twitter.com/sabra and www.pinterest.com/sabradips. Sabra Dipping Company is a U.S./Canadian joint venture between PepsiCo and Strauss Group. 

About Virginia State University Extension

Founded in 1882, Virginia State University Extension is one of Virginia’s two land-grant institutions and is located 20 minutes south of Richmond in the village of Ettrick. The Summerseat Incubator and Urban Garden Project Extension is a project of the university’s Cooperative Extension program. Virginia Cooperative Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg. Find VSU’s College of Agriculture and Cooperative Extension Program at www.ext.vsu.edu or http://www.agriculture.vsu.eduwww.facebook.com/VsuCollegeOfAgriculture  and https://twitter.com/VSU_AG.  

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Erica Shambley