Hunger has occurred throughout history because of failed crops, war, extreme poverty, drought, etc. Often, it was a case of the population outstripping the available food supply.
Although approximately one out of six Americans experiences food insecurity today, there is a more than adequate supply of food potentially available. However, according to both the National Resource Defence Council and the US Department of Agriculture, we throw away a pound of food per person per day in this country, or well over 100 billion pounds of food per year. Some estimate this to be more than enough to totally eliminate hunger in America. You can view a thought provoking photograph from the New York Times of what a the family of four’s monthly share of lost food is.
Some of the food is not harvestable (severe weather, disease, pests, etc), some is lost in storage (insects, mold, etc) or processing, some due to packaging/transportation problems, some becomes spoiled beyond use, etc. Additionally, some of the lost food comes from leftovers in restaurants and homes and some is blemished food that is safe to eat but possibly no longer visually appealing, such as an overripe banana.
Not included in these statistics is the volume of produce discarded by many millions of backyard gardeners (estimated to be more than 40 million by the National Gardening Association in 2009) because their plants produced far more fruits and vegetables than they could possibly use, preserve or give away. It is not uncommon for tomato plants to bear 20 to 40 or more fruit each, and the typical gardener often grows numerous plants. Many other crops such as peppers, cucumbers, squash, citrus, apples, and peaches etc. also produce abundant harvest.
Many gardeners reluctantly leave their excess crop to rot in the garden, some compost it and some simply throw it in the garbage (do not do this as this increases global warming by producing methane while decomposing). Vist the EPA’s Food Waste site to learn more.
The AmpleHarvest.org Campaign was created to enable backyard gardeners throughout America to share some of their bounty with neighbors who do not have access to fresh produce at their food pantry. Indeed, a gardeners produce is often delivered to the pantry within hours of harvesting, and may well be eaten by pantry clients soon thereafter. As such, many pantry clients find the AmpleHarvest.org produce is fresher than what they could have bought a the local supermarket.
Hunger in America may never be fully eliminated, but it can be diminished, and you can helpl
- If you belong to a house of worship or civic organization that houses a food pantry, please make the effort to contact them yourself and let them know about AmpleHarvest.org. You can print out the Food Pantry Brochure in the Printable Documents box to the left, and share it with them. Some pantries are run by older, retired people who do not know how to use a computer, and if that is the case, you can further assist by offering to help them register their pantry on AmpleHarvest.org. It is important for them to know that there is absolutely no cost whatsoever. If they express some concern that they can not store produce, suggest that they invite gardeners to deliver their produce during the morning hours one day per week, and invite their clients to come by later that same day to pick up the produce, an approach that will totally eliminate the storage issue.Once the pantry has registered, it can further help by letting other nearby food pantries know about AmpleHarvest.org.
- If you are or know a backyard gardener blessed with the sun, soil, rain and luck to give you more produce than you and your friends or family can use, please consider sharing it with a neighborhood pantry. The people to use food pantries are your neighbors who have fallen on hard times. Do not worry if your apples have some harmless blemish, if the tomatoes are not yet perfectly red (they will ripen even after they are harvested) or if your red peppers are still green. If you would feed the produce to your family, it is fine for the pantry. However, food that is spoiled, damaged, has insect holes, burst skin etc. should be put into your compost pile instead. Pantries will accept produce from both organic and non-organic gardens. Additionally, if you belong to a garden club, please share this information with the members.If know a gardener but do not garden yourself, please encourage your friend to visit AmpleHarvest.org or print out the Gardener/Farmer Brochure and share it with them.
- Lastly, if you are not familiar with a local food pantry and if you are not a gardener, you can still help by letting others know about AmpleHarvest.org. One simple way is to print out the CommunityGarden , and distribute it to others in your school, place of employment, social organization or community bulletin board. Another way is to forward this short note to all of your friends and family by email.
The AmpleHarvest.org campaign was created because there are well over 33,000 pantries in the United States, most of which are not well known in the community. Backyard gardeners with food to share cant if they dont know that a neighborhood food pantry even exists.
WhyHunger.org has a assembled a wealth of information about hunger and poverty in America. Find it here.
The ongoing success of the AmpleHarvest.org Campaign remains dependent on people spreading the word via email, word of mouth, or talking about it at meetings they attend. AmpleHarvest.org is on both Twitter and Facebook.
|Please pass the word.Your support of the AmpleHarvest.org campaign can diminish hunger in America, reduce global warming, improve the quality of food available to pantries and let neighbors in need know that their fellow Americans care about them.A $150 donation helps another food pantry become “visible” to growers who never knew it was there, and helps AmpleHarvest.org end hunger.For Good.|