DES MOINES – Central Iowa Services & Shelters is holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday for its new Schoen Family Greenhouse. The event will be followed by a reception at Big Grove Brewery including speeches from CISS CEO Melissa O’Neil and Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig.

The new greenhouse will help produce food for the shelter.

Melissa Alto-Kintigh, CISS’s Director of Marketing & Business Development, said that the greenhouse came about due to the spike in food insecurity following the pandemic.

“Food insecurity is a huge deal and especially with food prices skyrocketing and of course, food insecurity always being an issue anyway really since COVID it has really just had an uptick so that just plays right into it,” Alto-Kintigh said.

The greenhouse will use an aquaponics system to farm both fish and produce. It will be capable of producing 4,000 to 5,000 heads of lettuce each month as well as 600 pounds of tilapia every six weeks.

Aaron Thormodsen, CISS’s Urban Farm Manager, said that the greenhouse will provide fresh foods that normally wouldn’t be available for those in need.

“The food we’re producing is some of the most expensive products you can find fresh herbs leafy greens that kind of thing,” Thormodsen said.

Thormodsen also said that providing high-quality nutritious food for people in the shelter will help them get back on their feet.

“When you’re talking about the effect it’s going to have it’s going to allow folks that would normally not be able to access healthy fresh food with access to it,” Thormodsen said. “And for folks in the dayroom physical health is almost as important as mental health and being able to eat food that helps them feel better helps them get out of here.”

CISS will provide tours of the new greenhouse to the public at 1420 Mulberry beginning at 1:30 p.m. The ribbon-cutting is at 2:30 p.m. To learn more about the Schoen Family Greenhouse visit CISS’s website.