KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — At the Kyle Correctional Center, inmates are planting the seeds in addressing hunger in the greater Central Texas community, one garden vegetable at a time.
The correctional facility launched a food collection drive this spring, running through the end of June. As part of the efforts, inmates will help collect food and care for a community garden, in benefit of the Hays County Food Bank.
The hunger drive marks Kyle Correctional Center’s second project in 2021 as part of its four-part series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the facility’s Management & Training Corporation.
“What a great cause to help feed people who may be struggling in our community,” said Bernadette Rodriguez, warden of the Kyle Correctional Center, in a news release. “We want to do our part to help anyone in our area who may be struggling to put food on their table.”
To date, Kyle Correctional Center’s program has donated 247 pounds of fresh produce from its garden, Major Amanda Davilla said. More than 1,200 non-perishable food items have been donated to the Hays County Food Bank through the correctional facility’s initiatives, resulting in a total of 26 hours of community service from inmates.
“It goes a long way to them because they know that they’re making a difference,” she said. “The feedback that we obtained from the community, we share with the inmate population. So it’s, it’s kind of a breath of fresh air to them, knowing that they’re making a difference in our community.”
And concerns of food insecurity aren’t unique to Hays County. Data compiled by Feeding America in 2019 reported Texas’s food insecurity rate as 14.1% in 2019. More than 4 million people were classified as food insecure in the state of Texas, or lacked dependable access to affordable, quality food, in 2019.
Following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, officials are projecting 4.8 million food insecure Texans in 2021, or 16.5%.
For those serving time at the correctional center, Rodriguez said this year’s projects provide opportunities for inmates to tap into the greater Hays County community and to see the way their contributions help pay it forward.
“Yes, we are a prison, but we have individuals incarcerated that want to make a difference,” Rodriguez said. “They’re not all bad people, so they are really contributing their time and efforts to try to help somebody in need.”