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Déjà Vu All Over Again

August 12, 2015
Pile of tomatoes and four ears of corn
photo of Gary Oppenheimer in a garden Gary Oppenheimer

In 2008, I had an overly prolific garden. As it turns out, 80% of us do and collectively, we harvest 5 billion pounds (worth $9 billion) more than we can use, but that’s a story for another day.

Back to that lazy day in the summer of 2008, I had harvested more than we could use, and not wanting to see it go to waste, I contacted the manager of a local woman’s shelter I happen to know about – there was no other way to find a food program if you didn’t already know it existed – and asked if they needed it. The answer was yes.

The woman at the facility who accepted the food mentioned that she was thrilled because they could now have some fresh food. What? They don’t get fresh food? I had no idea.

That one drop off of veggies changed the food system in America, and increasingly, globally.

It opened my eyes to what 50 million Americans see, or rather don’t see: the opportunity to have healthy fresh food.

In early 2009, I launched to help assure that we deal with hunger in America first by using the food we have – not allowing any of the locally grown bounty we’re blessed with to go to waste. It started as a one person program, incorporated a year later as a non-profit, got its first employees a few years later, and today, is helping 20% of America’s food pantries and soup kitchens become accessible to the gardeners in the community for the first time.

I’m currently harvesting a lot of brassicaceae greens this year and took some to the same woman’s shelter I visited that fateful day six years ago. This time, I found it on
Different lady but pretty much the same story. She profusely thanked me and mentioned that they have a difficult time getting fresh food. She said that the greens would be served tonight at dinner to the 46 women and children who live there.

What started at this shelter six years ago has taken hold at nearly 7,500 food programs across America. Pictures of donations at our Facebook, Instragram and Pinterest pages point to the impact growers, thanks to, are having around America.

We can help them. You can help us.

I’ve been nominated as a finalist in the New Jersey Heroes program, through which we could receive a $7,500 grant. This one-time prize would help us reach thousands of gardeners and hundreds more food pantries.

But we also need your ongoing help. America has 42 million growers. It also has more than 32,500 food pantries and it also has all that food I mentioned in the beginning that’s just itching not to be lost to waste as it has in the past.

Please visit to set up an automatic monthly donation to

We’re looking to double the impact of in the next three years and you can help. Please donate $10 or more if you can monthly (its an automatic donation – nothing to do once you set it up).

It will help assure that the next time I or another gardener in America visits a shelter or any other food for the hungry, the response won’t be Déjà Vu All Over Again.

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