Church Stories

HomeChurch Stories, OutreachGil and Marlene Fresh Food and Nutrition Center

Gil and Marlene Fresh Food and Nutrition Center

Written by: Julia Smolucha


Margot Bowen

Last year, the Gil and Marlene Bowen Christian Outreach Fund gave a one-time gift to By The Hand to transform a food desert, the underserved Altgeld Gardens neighborhood, through a holistic food solution, a state-of-the-art freight farm that will produce the equivalent of four acres of nutrient rich produce year-round. The center will also feature robust student entrepreneurship and nutrition programs, as well as food access opportunities for the entire community.

Construction on the Gil and Marlene Fresh Food and Nutrition Center is well underway, but exciting things are already happening thanks to the partnership with By The Hand.

A few highlights:

  • The Green Bronx Machine curriculum is being taught to 150 children, including building two indoor aeroponic tower gardens and nutrition classes featuring vegetable taste testing and songs to help students learn the different types of vegetables
  • Initially, the majority of students could not list more than three fruits or vegetables. After just a few months, students were able to list an average of 10 fruits and vegetables in just 90 seconds
  • In December, the students celebrated the first full garden harvest of bibb lettuce, kale, and basil from the tower gardens and used the greens to create their own salads
  • The hydroponic freight farm that will supply fresh produce has been manufactured and will be installed this summer. The neighborhood’s entire electrical grid has already been updated to support the freight farm, an added benefit for all residents

We will provide further updates in coming months, including ways for Kenilworth Union Church members to engage with the Center.

With faith and gratitude, The Bowen Family