Inmates transforming land to feed hungry

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Four acres of land are being transformed by inmates from the Smith County Jail. The goal is to feed hungry children.

When Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith heard about the East Texas Food Bank's increasing needs, he had an idea of using prisoners to raise crops and work on a garden.

The program, which includes help from the Agriculture Extension Office, is called Planting Seeds of Hope.

Sheriff Smith says his heart goes out to East Texans living in poverty because he himself spent many nights growing up, wanting food. He says this program is a win-win situation.

"They're not rapist, robbers, murderers," said Smith. "These are people in for DWI, non-payment of child support and they're glad to be out and be helpful and they feel like they're being helped. They feel like they're giving something that's worth it."

"Come July, this place will look like a jungle in a good way," said Jim Rice, an East Texas Food Bank Board member.

They say peas, tomatoes and squash are in highest demand. The four acres are expected to provide 48,000 pounds of fresh produce for the Food Bank.

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