The USDA’s nationwide food drive, Feds Feed Families, hit the road last week for an awesome event in Memphis, TN at the Agricenter International‘s Farmers’ Market. I had the pleasure of stopping by to catch some of the action and meet some of the amazing folks behind the Feds Feed Families campaign. As you may know, AmpleHarvest.org has teamed up with FFF this year to help encourage federal employees–who might also be gardeners–to donate their extra fresh veggies and fruits to their local food pantry. But, there are many ways for federal employees (and others) to ramp up the amount of FRESH food that is collected during this nationwide food drive, and in Memphis last week, we got pumped up about what we can do!
Karen Comfort, FFF National Program Manager, gave the rallying cry to fill empty shelves at food distribution centers across America, reminding us that this time of year, supply goes down while demand increases. Julius Johnson, Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, encouraged us to visit one of over 140 farmers markets across the state to shop for ourselves and even buy extra to donate to share with those in need. Nathan Dryden, Program Coordinator for the Society of St. Andrew, Tennessee reminded us that there are millions of pounds of produce in fields and orchards that can be gleaned and donated to help feed the hungry. In 2013 alone, the Society of St. Andrew harvested 32.3 million pounds of food that would have been thrown away. And, to drive it all home, David Stephens, of the Mid-South Food Bank pleaded for help. He said the summer is the worst time of year for the food bank. Their inventory is down by more than 30% but their 237 partner agencies, across 31 counties, are asking for more food because more people are in need.
It was easy to be inspired. Before the event began, I strolled through the market aisles filled with colorful fruits and vegetables. I bought a fresh squeezed lemonade (because, it’s Memphis and it’s July) and saw people filling donation bins with food from the market. The FFF food drive is a great opportunity to get involved in feeding our nation’s hungry. Let the FFF campaign inspire you to get involved. Even if you’re not a federal employee, you can make a difference. Whether you’re growing, gleaning, or buying extra at a farmers market to share, you are helping to feed your hungry neighbors.