Montague Co. Jail Inmates Help Feed Residents in Need

- Jail trustees are inmates who have proven they are trustworthy to work in the community mowing, picking up litter and performing other jobs.

However in Montague County, trustees have a new duty that's helping put food on the dinner tables of hungry residents.

Montague County Sheriff Paul Cunningham turned a plot of county owned land into a garden, which is now providing fresh, free produce for residents in need.

"It's better than being in the ac locked up.  This is our chance to get out here and do something good," says Tyson Vann, a Montague County jail trustee.

"The best part is being outside and not being locked down all the time.  There really ain't no worst part of being out here.  I enjoy it all," adds Jeff Young, who is also a jail trustee.

From caterpillars to grasshoppers-- but trustees say they've encountered more frightening things in this garden.

"We've killed a few copperheads out here.  Three I think," says John Scrogum, a jail trustee.

Sheriff Paul Cunningham says trustees do get perks for their hard work.

"They get a little bit of extra meals. They do get two for one days on their sentence," Sheriff Cunningham says.

But the sheriff says the biggest benefit is to clients of Christ Can Food Bank in downtown Montague.

"When I tell them there's vegetables on the porch. They get them some on the way out.  They're glad to get them.  They really are," says Larry Carter of Christ Can Food Bank.

And recipients, like Peggy Sue Cramer, are glad for the trustees.

"Gives them something to do that's productive and they're helping people out," Cramer says.

Help that began several months ago.

The inmate garden program started in the spring and it's been so successful there are plans to expand it.

Sheriff Cunningham is working on expanding this quarter acre garden to cover and entire acre, which would provide even more fresh food for Montague residents.

So far, trustees have planted and picked corn, squash, zucchini, okra a tomatoes but they're like other Texoma farmers-- struggling to protect their produce from hungry grasshoppers.

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