No Food Left Behind – AmpleHarvest.org Helps Gardeners Fight Food Waste, Feed People
Jul 28 2017
This blog was provided by Gary Oppenheimer of AmpleHarvest.org – an awesome organization using technology to connect people in the name of fighting food waste and hunger!
Note: The American food bank network is made up of about 200 food banks – large industrial sized regional warehouses and approximately 33,500 food pantries (also called food cupboards, food shelves, food closets or even food banks in some states) that actually provide the food to America’s food insecure families. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll use the term “food pantry” to refer to the food distribution organization within the community.
Food Waste From Gardens
According to a 2014 study by the National Gardening Association, more than 42 million American grow fruit, herbs and vegetables in home. Often they harvest more than they can use, preserve or give to friends. While some gardeners compost the excess produce, many others simply let it rot in the garden or worse, throw it into the trash, adding to the waste stream and causing the release of methane gas as it decomposes – contributing to climate change. More than 11 billion pounds of garden food are lost annually to waste.
Food Insecure Americans
According to the USDA, 50+ million Americans are food insecure (either they do not have enough food or they are at real risk of not having enough food). This equals populations of Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia added together. The garden food lost to waste nationwide could feed 28 million Americans.
AmpleHarvest.org and its impact on Food Waste and Hunger in America
In 2009, the AmpleHarvest.org Campaign was created to address this dilemma. Designed to function as a “Google” for America’s food pantries, it was quickly embraced by both the food bank network as well as millions of gardeners nationwide.
Thanks to backing and support from the White House, Google Inc. and the USDA, the National Gardening Association, the National Council of Churches and many others, nearly 8,000, about 20% of Americas food pantries, (www.AmpleHarvest.org/map) can now receive fresh produce from local backyard gardeners.
AmpleHarvest.org has garnered an enthusiastic response nationwide. For example, the Community Resources Center Food Pantry (California) reported:
“Within one hour of registering Community Resource Center on the AmpleHarvest.org website I received a call from a local family of four with 10 orange trees. I spoke with the mother of the family and she said that until she heard of AmpleHarvest.org her family was spending time cleaning up rotten fruit off the ground. Now her family can spend time harvesting fruit to give to low income families in their community. Since speaking with her, she has dropped off 8 large bags full of locally grown oranges.”
Providing fresh produce to pantries offers benefits to both the recipient as well as the community. Not only is fresh produce healthier than canned (no excess salt or sugar in the diet thereby lowering our national long-term health care costs) goods, it tastes a lot better, has a much smaller carbon footprint and has eye appeal too. Lastly… by helping to feed neighbors in the community instead of throwing the excess away, we reduce the waste stream, diminish methane emissions from trash dumps while reducing cost of fighting hunger. All this because a bountiful harvest was shared with a pantry and not wasted.
Get Involved – Donate Your Excess Harvest
The AmpleHarvest.org Campaign relies on help and support from people nationwide and you can help too! As more food pantries learn about it and register, more gardeners across the country will be able to share their excess harvest and garden by garden, hunger in America will be diminished. Please visit www.AmpleHarvest.org/local to help AmpleHarvest.org help your community. Additionally, if your business traditionally runs food drives, learn how an AmpleHarvest.org Virtual Food Drive can help more pantries get fresh food without cluttering your offices with cans or boxes – plus providing tax deduction receipts for the donors.
Get Your Faith Community Involved!
Food Waste Weekend was created to involve faith communities as an integral part of the solution to reducing food waste. AmpleHarvest.org and Greenfaith have put together resources for clergy of all faith backgrounds to integrate a message on food waste reduction into their sermons during the weekend, September 8-10, 2017. Learn more at: foodwasteweekend.org
One out of every six Americans is hungry. It doesn’t have to be that way.
AmpleHarvest.org enables people to help their neighbors in need by reaching into their backyards instead of their back pockets.