An Ample Harvest

Ample Harvest

This morning I discovered a gem that I just couldn’t wait to share. I was flipping through the year-end report of the Good People Fund, a foundation that responds to significant problems such as poverty, disability, trauma, and social isolation, primarily in the United States and Israel.

One of their grantees is AmpleHarvest.org. Here’s what it said in the report:

I can tell you how much those who utilize the food pantry enjoy the opportunity to take home some fresh produce. The turnips were flying out the door yesterday. Yes, that’s right. These are the same turnips… that sit unloved in the grocery store produce section. Keep that fresh produce coming. It’s good for the whole country because healthier people means less money going to the hospitals.

These words were written by a food pantry director to Gary Oppenheimer, founder of AmpleHarvest.org. Launched in 2009, AmpleHarvest.org connects millions of home gardeners with an excess of crops to thousands of soup kitchens and food pantries that rarely receive fresh produce to distribute to clients. This simple idea has proven to be an effective weapon in our country’s assault on hunger.

With more than 4,500 pantries registered on Gary’s website, gardeners locate a pantry nearby and donate excess turnips, squash, tomatoes… whatever they cannot consume. Our country produces sufficient food to feed all its citizens. AmpleHarvest.org offers a most creative, yet simple, way to get food to where it is needed. Our funds were used to help Gary expand the organization’s reach. With a mostly web-based operation and minimal staffing, AmpleHarvest.org is a lean and effective operation.

If you’re a gardener and have excess produce (or perhaps have space to plant a little extra this year), I encourage you to use the Ample Harvest Food Pantry Search to find a local pantry where you can donate some of your fresh produce for folks who truly need it.

Or maybe you spy a fruit tree in your neighbor’s yard, and it’s clear they’re letting the fruit go to waste?  Why not ring their doorbell and ask if you can pick the fruit so you can donate it to a local pantry?

If you don’t have produce to contribute, please consider making a donation to this very smart non-profit. I just did.

Photo pulled from AmpleHarvest.org; I hope they don’t mind. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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11 Comments on "An Ample Harvest"

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LiztheChef
Guest

Timely post – has my support too.

Evilcyber
Guest

That indeed is a commendable effort.

What upsets me is how many supermarkets still don’t follow the same notion, throwing away perfectly edible produce and food in general – and they sure have way more to spare than most small-time gardeners.

Veggie Val
Guest

Excellent post, Andrew! We gardeners need a resource like this. @ECyber: Unfortunately, many states dictate that expired, leftover (from making the produce look “pretty”) or otherwise-still-edible food must be thrown out for “health” reasons. I can see their generalized logic, but certainly there is a solution out there – or maybe it requires a less fearful mindset.

Evilcyber
Guest

I indeed didn’t know that. Thank you for the clarification!

Does that make sense? Well, personally I believe that the senses that for thousands of years kept us from eating rotten food should be more trusted than expiration dates 🙂

AmpleHarvest.org
Guest

Thank you for that great writeup. AmpleHarvest.org currently has almost 4,650 registered food pantries across all 50 states. Click on http://www.ampleharvest.org/map to see our national map.

We work closely with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative along with other organizations. Founder Gary Oppenheimer, a CNN Hero, will be speaking at TEDxManhattan in a few weeks. You can learn more about AmpleHarvest.org by viewing a recent PBS episode of Growing A Greener World.

If you believe as we do in “No Food Left Behind”, please support our work and ask your friends nationwide to do so too. Visit http://www.AmpleHarvest.org/donate to help us fix America’s food pantries produce supply problem. to learn more.

BTW… we’re pleased that you used our picture.

Jill
Guest

I live in a rural area with lots of home gardens. I really wish I’d known about this in the summertime so we could have acted on it. This is a fabulous idea. Can you please post a reminder in the springtime so more people can get on it while produce is growing? Also approaching vendors at farmer’s markets would be a great idea. Regarding supermarket produce, I was told at our local market that they sell the ‘expired’ stuff to pig farms for feed. I was trying to just get a few greens for my chickens in the wintertime, but no dice… :-/

Suzie Blodgett
Guest

Hi, Jill,

Why not print this gardener flier
http://www.ampleharvest.org/downloads/gardener.pdf and keep it with your garden planning tools so not only will you remember to visit AmpleHarvest.org to find local pantries when it’s time, but perhaps you can use it to help spread the word to all those gardeners in your area! Much of the program’s success is a result of the grass-roots efforts of people in small communities across America making sure gardening neighbors and food pantries know about this campaign.

Some people plant a little extra in the beginning of the season so they can share, so even before the growing season is in full swing is a great time to think about it too!

AmpleHarvest.org
Guest

Follow us at facebook.com/AmpleHarvest.org or sign up on our list at http://www.ampleharvest.org/contact.php

Adrian
Guest

I haven’t heard of this either. Thanks for the info Andrew!

Debbie Helpinghand
Guest

It’s great that an organization like Ample Harvest is available to provide guidance on donating produce. Not all food shelves and pantries are equipped to store or process perishable food items. I’ve come across many small pantries that can only be open for a few hours one day per week, or even as little as one or two days a month. So timing that produce donation is critical if it’s going to be fresh when clients visit their pantry.

AmpleHarvest.org
Guest

Debbie…

You are 100% correct. However, the design built into AmpleHarvest.org totally eliminates the need for refrigeration or storage. We are using a”just in time” design to solve the timing problem.

Check out http://www.ampleharvest.org/pantry-faq.php#refrigeration

ALL food pantries can, and should take advantage of AmpleHarvest.org.

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