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05/23/2022

Giant teams up with Empower at the Bridge Foundation to nourish Harrisburg families

Giant’s sponsorship 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 underserved families.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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giant empower at the bridge foundation

Giant is making strides in feeding underserved families by working with Empower at the Bridge Foundation to help provide nutritious foods grown locally while beginning to convert the city of Harrisburg’s food desert into a food oasis. 

“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 Company and our valuable community partner Harrisburg City F.A.R.M., Governor and Mrs. Wolf and all our dedicated volunteers.” 

At a press conference, 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, Pa.

[Read more: Giant releases community impact report]

“At The Giant Company, 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,” said Glennis Harris, senior vice president of customer experience at Giant. “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.”

Giant'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 underserved families. Volunteers from Giant will continue lending helping hands to the garden as this project aligns with their commitment to heal our planet and eliminate hunger in the communities they serve, the company said.

“When we work together, communities can be revitalized and success ensured,” said Gov. 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 Company 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.”

[Read more: Raising the bar on sustainability in 2022: Consumer expectations drive retailers to choose more conscious policies and act on them]

Giant team members have been volunteering in the gardens at the abandoned school. Together, this partnership will provide food-insecure families with regular produce in the months ahead, such as lettuces, salad mixes, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, Asian greens, winter squash, eggplant, pumpkins, peas, bok choy, potatoes, onions, kale, collard greens, beans, zucchini, herbs and edible flowers among others.

In addition, Giant and Planet Bee also donated beehives to help with pollination and to produce honey.

“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,” Gilliam said.

“Kerry MacDearmid and I have been excited to design and create this tremendous growth space in collaboration with Empower at the Bridge Foundation and with volunteers from Evolve Youth Trades Academy, The Giant Company, Harrisburg Academy, Milton Hershey and others from the community,” said Amahl Pitts, co-owner of Harrisburg City F.A.R.M.

“We are working with the city in hopes of creating other community gardens throughout Harrisburg to help feed and educate individuals on the basics of urban gardening,” Pitts said. “With the goal being to maximize the spaces we do have, it’s been exciting to partner with Empower at The Bridge Foundation, Garry and The Giant Company, and our incredible volunteers who are helping us weekly to turn this football stadium hillside into a box garden and other areas into thriving nutrient-rich, food-producing resources that can potentially produce thousands of pounds of raw vegetables and fruits.”

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