Our Year, With Your Help: a 2013 review and thank you from our Founder and Executive Director, Gary Oppenheimer
By any measure, AmpleHarvest.org, the scrappy four year old non-profit that found a way to fix America’s flawed food system, has had a remarkable year.
More than 6,500 food pantries across all 50 states, or 1 out of every 5 in America, are now a part of AmpleHarvest.org. These pantries serve an estimated 9 million clients. That’s good, but we also need to remember that there are 50 million food insecure people in America so we have a lot of work yet ahead of us.
We will be striving to have at least 10,000 food pantries, or about 1 out of every 3 in America registered with AmpleHarvest.org in 2015, meaning that possibly as many as 15 million food insecure people could benefit from the excess produce grown in their community by nearby gardeners.
In October, AmpleHarvest.org, along with New Jersey Governor Christie and two others, received the Points of Light Tribute – a coveted recognition created by President Bush to honor those who do volunteer work or enable others to do it. We are deeply humbled and honored by this award and we hope to continue to be a source of inspiration and a point of light for many years to come
AmpleHarvest.org received grants from two foundations that enabled us to hire our first full time employees–an exciting and critically important development for programs. They have brought a great deal of creativity and passion to this work and have helped us expand our reach to pantries and gardeners. Next year we hope to bring more people on board to help us achieve our goals and expand our impact.
This year, we launched a series of photo contests on Facebook. We’ve used these monthly contests to thank the growers across the country that are donating their excess harvest to food pantries. Each month we give away a $300 gift certificate to Gardener’s Supply Company. The contest encourages and inspires other growers to harvest and donate too and we love seeing all the amazing photos our fans are submitting.
This holiday season, we rolled out our annual Centerpieces for Pantries Campaign with a new look and message. We’re encouraging folks to “Skip The Flowers” and use edible centerpieces instead so the food can be donated to a nearby food pantry. Our super creative staff and board submitted their own photos to inspire others and we had a lot of fun doing it.
2013 has been a big year for us in terms of social media and viral outreach. Early this year we launched our blog. We’ve been thrilled to have a diverse group of very talented writers that includes a chef from a soup kitchen, a specialist in health matters, a university student as well as myself and our staff.
Lastly, AmpleHarvest.org has attracted new corporate supports such as BV wines, Lolë and others to help underwrite our operational costs. Several foundations that have been helping AmpleHarvest.org from the start have continued to do so. And most importantly, lots of individual donors reached into their back pockets to help AmpleHarvest.org even as they were reaching into their backyard to help their neighbors in need. To all of you, thank you.
What’s in the cards for 2014? Some things I can talk about – a total overhaul of our web site and apps, expansion of our tracking capabilities, GleaningHarvest.org (think AmpleHarvest.org on steroids), additional multimedia outreach, expansion of our board of directors to include an ever broader wealth of expertise, and the start of measuring the nutritional impact AmpleHarvest.org is having on communities across America. And there are some things I can’t yet talk about – a huge collaboration that will expand AmpleHarvest.org’s “reach” to over 3 million additional people in one step, a strategic partnership with a major global foundation, and more.
To help us achieve these goals, please support our work both by helping AmpleHarvest.org directly in your own community and by making a donation to AmpleHarvest.org before the end of the year. It may be possible for your donation to have twice the impact with a work-place charitable donation-matching program. Corporations like Google and Citrix now match donations their employees make to AmpleHarvest.org. If you have any friends working at these companies, let them know about AmpleHarvest.org.
When you make your tax deductible donation to AmpleHarvest.org, ask if your company has a matching program. If AmpleHarvest.org is not on their list, ask for it to be added. You give them our name and they’ll do all the work!
We’ve worked hard this year and will continue to as we put the power to end hunger back into your community. Washington has not done a great job here – not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t. The existing food network cannot handle fresh food but AmpleHarvest.org has solved this problem with creative and outside-of-the-box thinking – a new food distribution network using resources that already exist.
Most of us are powerless to solve the problems facing America but in the case of hunger, malnutrition and food waste, we can. You and your neighbors have the food. Your community has the food pantries and we have the technology. Using the food we waste to end hunger is the low hanging fruit towards America’s future.
We started ending hunger four years ago. Visit www.AmpleHarvest.org/donate and help us finish our work.
To you, your family and your community, Season’s Greetings from everyone at AmpleHarvest.org.
Founder and Executive Director