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OSU receives TSET grant to combat food insecurity

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Media Contact: Cody Cramer | The Innovation Foundation at OSU | 405-613-2838 |

Oklahoma State University has received a transformative grant totaling $750,000 from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust of Oklahoma.  

The Innovation Foundation at OSU was the lead and organizer of this three-year grant. By facilitating collaboration between experts from various colleges and institutes, The Innovation Foundation is driving transdisciplinary work across the university and region. Assembling partners focused on the health and well-being of Oklahomans is one of the many areas of focus for the organization.

"This grant represents a significant step forward in our efforts to address food insecurity and improve health outcomes in Oklahoma,” OSU President Kayse Shrum said. “The collaboration within our community partners will allow us to make a tangible difference in the lives of Oklahomans."  

According to Feed America, one in six Oklahomans struggle with hunger and, one in four are children. This project will focus on combating those issues by leveraging OSU’s rich agricultural heritage and innovative research capabilities. These efforts began last year through the 
OSU Student Farm

Located on the west side of campus on the Historic Swine Barn grounds, the OSU Student Farm produced more than 54,000 pounds of food for Payne County residents in 2023. Through a partnership with Stillwater’s Our Daily Bread Food and Resource Center, fresh fruits and vegetables are delivered to the food center. Fresh produce is also supplied to Pete’s Pantry, the food bank located on the OSU campus. 

Our Daily Bread Food and Resource Center is a member of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, which distributes an average of 50 million pounds of food each year through its network of more than 1,300 community-based partners in 53 counties in central and western Oklahoma.  

The grant, allocated over three years, unites faculty and staff from across multiple colleges and departments to elevate the production, distribution and nutritional benefits of fresh produce needed to address the food crisis facing Oklahomans.  

"We are excited to increase the vegetable production acreage at the Student Farm over the next three years,” said Dr. Justin Quetone Moss, department head of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. “This will enable us to enhance our existing partnership with Our Daily Bread Food and Resource Center and to expand our new partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.” 

Collaborators on this project include faculty and staff within the  Human Performance and Nutrition Research Institute (HPNRI), OSU Agriculture, and the College of Education and Human Sciences. The initiative's centerpiece is the expansion and enhancement of the farm, which will serve as a dynamic model for sustainable produce production. The project aims to increase wellness and access to fresh, locally grown produce, particularly for underserved communities by leveraging practical agricultural development, educational programs and comprehensive research. 

"Nutritional sciences and the College of Education and Human Sciences are honored to collaborate with our colleagues in the Ferguson College of Agriculture and Department of Horticulture, as well as our community partners including the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and community food pantries,” said Dr. Deana Hildebrand, associate professor and associate department head in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, and Community Health Program lead for OSU Extension. “Collectively we anticipate enhancing the capacity of the OSU Student Farm as well as learning from various communities about their needs for receipt and distribution of fresh produce.” 

Lance Walker, Rick and Gail Muncrief executive director of HPNRI, will lead the project, along with Moss, Dr. Tyler Mason, Hildebrand, Dr. Bailey Norwood, Shelby Mendoza, Matthew Beartrack, Lynda Carrier, Joshua Campbell, Rachael Condley and Caleb Dixon, all of whom bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the initiative. 

"We are thrilled to have the support of TSET in our mission to combat food insecurity and improve health outcomes in Oklahoma," Walker said. "With this grant, we will be able to expand our reach and make a meaningful impact on the lives of those who need it most." 

The OSU Student Farm project will address the pressing need for healthy living and access to fresh produce in Oklahoma, particularly in regions with higher-than-average rates of food insecurity. By collaborating and expanding relationships with community partners such as Our Daily Bread Food and Resource Center as well as the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, the project aims to create sustainable change and promote healthier lifestyles across the state.  

“Our efforts reflect OSU’s strong commitment to addressing the critical issues of nutrition security and health across the state,” Hildebrand said. “The results of this project are just the beginning."

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