Important COVID-19 Information
Social distancing in integral to AmpleHarvest.org’s design and protocol.
1. It is run by staff that has always worked from home offices
2. It is the only “food” program we know of that has “social distancing” built in as it works with the individual gardener and not teams of volunteers or gleaners
3. It includes a social distancing protocol at the time and place of donation of the food,
“AmpleHarvest.org envisions an America where millions of gardeners eliminate wasted food, malnutrition and hunger in their own community.”
The AmpleHarvest.org Vision Statement
AmpleHarvest.org, founded by CNN Hero and World Food Prize nominee Gary Oppenheimer, is a nationwide non-profit that uses technology to end food waste and hunger, reduce malnutrition and help the environment in America by educating and empowering millions of home/community gardeners to easily find a local food pantry eager for their surplus garden bounty.
Currently there are 8,730 food pantries across all 50 states registered on AmpleHarvest.org, and more are joining every day.
AmpleHarvest.org has received support and backing from Google Inc., the White House and the USDA, the National Council of Churches, the National Gardening Association, Feeding America and its member food banks, Bonnie Plants, Garden Writers of America as well as numerous faith organizations. It is available to food pantries (and similar feeding programs) and gardeners at no charge.
AmpleHarvest.org envisions an America where millions of gardeners eliminate the hunger, malnutrition and the waste of food, in their own community.
AmpleHarvest.org diminishes hunger by diminishing the waste of locally grown fresh food nationwide and as well as climate change, by educating, encouraging and enabling America’s gardeners to donate their surplus harvest to a local food pantry instead of throwing it away or leaving it to rot in the garden.
A number of America’s problems could be diminished or even solved if everyone valued our resources, especially fresh food, as the treasure it really is.
- Currently 8,730 AmpleHarvest.org food pantries across all 50 states in more than 4,100 communities can now receive a sustainable and recurring supply of freshly harvested, locally grown food (many for the first time) from area growers – for free!
- Millions of pantry clients can feed their family fresh instead of processed food thereby reducing the likelihood of diet related illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
- Children, now at greater risk of obesity than ever before, are exposed to fresh produce with many learning for the first time that apples do not normally come pre-sliced in cellophane, peas come in pods and not cans and carrots are normally sweet and crunchy.
- Families are introduced to new varieties of food they may have had no prior access to.
- The carbon footprint of the pantries is reduced as locally sourced food (without packaging or cans trucked across the country that need to be disposed of) is used.
- The community waste stream is reduced (taxes too!) as excess food is donated instead of being thrown away thereby also reducing methane emissions (a climate change gas with 20 times the impact of CO2) at trash dumps
- All this occurs at no cost to the donor or the food pantry.
“AmpleHarvest.org is the answer to the classic ‘excess supply not reaching the demand’ dilemma that has up to now resulted in vast amounts of food wasted in millions of gardens across America while the needy in the community remained malnourished and hungry” Gary Oppenheimer, Nov 2010
AmpleHarvest.org is a unique nationwide nonprofit that is eliminating the waste of food, the outcome being a reduction in hunger and malnutrition along with an improved environment. It is accomplished by using technology to enable the estimated 61 million (up from 42 million in the pre-COVID19 world) Americans who grow food in home/community gardens to easily donate their surplus harvest to one of 8,730 registered local food pantries spread across all 50 states. These food pantries help nourish the one out of six Americans (including a quarter of all kids under six ) that rely on these pantries.
When AmpleHarvest.org web site was first released in May of 2009, approximately 38 million Americans were listed as food insecure. According to US government statistics that number has increased to more than 42 million people, or one out of every six Americans; this despite the fact that America loses/wastes almost 100 billion pounds of food a year, or about one pound per person per day according to the New York Times.
These people often rely on one of the estimated 33,500+ local food pantries in America to help meet the nutritional needs of their families.
In most communities a food pantry is typically located in a house of worship or similar community building. Usually run by volunteers, these pantries are the final distribution point for food and household items available to those most needing it. Although they are in nearly every community in the country, people in the area who do not need assistance from the food pantry rarely know where it is located.
Food pantries receive the bulk of the food they distribute from periodic deliveries provided by large regional warehouse operations called food banks. The majority of these food banks are part of a nationwide network operated by Feeding America (www.feedingamerica.org).
Unlike your local supermarket whose daily food deliveries allows it to stock and sell fresh produce, the less frequent deliveries by food banks means that only canned fruit and vegetables can usually be provided to most food pantries.
Because canned vegetables are often processed with extra salt and fruit with a sugary syrup, either of which can contribute to future health problems (high weight or blood pressure, diabetes, etc), making fresh produce available at food pantries through AmpleHarvest.org helps to significantly lower the future health care costs in America.
While over 42 million Americans are food insecure, more than 61 million Americans, according to industry experts, grow vegetables, fruit and herbs in their backyard, rooftop, patio and windowsill gardens.
A typical gardener plants their seeds or seedlings and then eagerly waits to begin the harvesting. As the growing season progresses, there will often be a far larger harvest than the gardener can use, preserve or give away to friends.
Historically, most gardeners have disposed of the excess produce, composted it, or left it to rot in their garden.
AmpleHarvest.org provides these gardeners with the opportunity to instead easily find a local food pantry within a specified driving distance that is eager for their garden bounty.
A gardener overwhelmed with a bountiful harvest can go to AmpleHarvest.org to find pantry on the Find A Pantry page. They simply enter their home address or zip code and the number of miles they are willing to travel to a pantry.
AmpleHarvest.org displays a listing of food pantries, sorted by distance, along with a Google map.
Once the pantry has been selected, AmpleHarvest.org displays the desired day[s] of the week and time[s] of day when the pantry can accept donations. It will also show a photograph of the pantry (if provided) along with Google driving instructions from the gardener’s location to the food pantry. Click here to see an example of what the gardener might see.
Donating through AmpleHarvest.org is not limited just to backyard gardeners. Millions of Americans grow tomatoes, cucumbers, berries and other foods on their patio or rooftop. Millions more have homes with fruit trees they planted, or was planted by the previous homeowner. Even urban dwellers find that they can easily grow herbs (fresh chives, parsley, mint, and other herbs are particularly appreciated by pantry clients) in windowsill gardens. Lastly, many food pantries use AmpleHarvest.org to list those store bought items (canned foods, paper goods, toiletries, etc.) they are most in need of, making AmpleHarvest.org helpful to shoppers as well as gardeners.
AmpleHarvest.org is an opt-in directory – only those pantries that choose to participate or are registered by their managing food bank will appear. Since most food pantries find that the garden produce is quickly taken by their clients – often within hours of delivery by the gardeners, refrigerated storage at the pantry is rarely an issue. Food pantries, almost always struggling to meet an ever growing need for food assistance, greatly appreciate the community support AmpleHarvest.org enables them to receive.
Proper Use of Name
Please note the proper use of our name is “AmpleHarvest.org”. The name of the non-profit running AmpleHarvest.org is “AmpleHarvest.org, Inc.”
Please do not use the two word expression “Ample Harvest” when referring to AmpleHarvest.org as it is not the correct name and is likely to confuse your readers/viewers/listeners.
Frequently Asked Questions
The AmpleHarvest.org’s FAQ is broken down into 3 sections:
Additional information is available at the AmpleHarvest.org food pantry advice page.
This 5 mniute video shows you how a food pantry registers at AmpleHarvest.org and how a gardener would use AmpleHarvest.org to find a food pantry.
Comments and Feedback
The AmpleHarvest.org has received a good deal of very positive feedback (including numerous videos from the food pantries themselves) since it rolled out. A sample of these comments can be seen here and
AmpleHarvest.org’s core program is called: AmpleHarvest.org. Its work is to reduce food waste by helping to assure that excess garden food gets to local food pantries. This involves two parallel work-flows
- Adding food pantries to the AmpleHarvest.org search engine so they can be found by the gardeners
- Educating home/community gardeners that they can donate food to a local food pantry.
Feds Feed Families
AmpleHarvest.org provides a unique opportunity for employees of the Federal government who happen to be home or community gardeners, to elect to donate fresh food from their garden to a local food pantry, when they participate in the federal government’s own food drive called Feds Feed Families. More at https://www.AmpleHarvest.org/FFF
Food Waste Weekend
Food Waste Weekend (http://www.FoodWasteWeekend.org) is an educational program from AmpleHarvest.org that helps the clergy of all faiths learn about food waste and then enables them to do sermons on the issue. Food Waste Weekend is unique in that it enables clergy of different faiths to give faith specific sermons all on the same issue and all on the same weekend.
Survey Analyzing Garden Food Loss
AmpleHarvest.org completed a two year survey of 2,500 home/community gardeners to determine both food wastage and the food donation opportunity. The results point to 11+ billion pounds of food loss annually (enough to feed 28 million people) with 4 out of every 5 gardeners eager to donate.
Centerpieces for Pantries
AmpleHarvest.org’s annual pre-holiday season program educates and encourages people who are hosting or attending a holiday dinner, to replace the normal table top floral arrangement with an arrangement that is made of whole fruits and vegetables. This arrangement is used for ornamental purposes first, and is then donated to a nearby food pantry the following day. This program can also be used year round at other events such as weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, corporate events, etc. More at https://www.AmpleHarvest.org/Holiday
AmpleHarvest.org has responded to several crises in the past including the BP oil spill, the Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes, Hurricane Harvey, and most recently, the 2018-2019 government shutdown. Most recently as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, AmpleHarvest.org has added the capacity for small farmers to donate food they could not bring to market. In all cases, AmpleHarvest.org shifts its nationwide focus to a more local one, working to help more of the gardeners in the impacted area donate more food to pantries to help the local needs of the people. More at AmpleHarvest.org/crisis.
AmpleHarvest.org’s keynote speaker program provides an experienced and inspiring keynote speaker for universities, public events and corporate meetings to speak on the issue of food waste and innovative solutions. In most cases, a complementary colloquium is provided to a local college or university as part of the package. Learn more…
Food Resource for Food Insecure Families
AmpleHarvest.org helps food insecure families find local food pantries. The key benefit to these families is that the only food pantries listed are those that are also accessible to to local gardeners with excess food. It also helps to connect these families to two partner programs – United Way and WhyHunger.org
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|AmpleHarvest.org widgets are available here.|
Sample Blog Articles
Please read our proper use of name section before you publish a blog article. Thank you.
What Makes This Story Different?
“AmpleHarvest.org does not feed a hungry family one meal. Instead it diminishes hunger and malnutrition permanently and does it by using healthy food already available in the community.”
Gary Oppenheimer, Oct 2011
- While some other programs focus on working with farms and community gardens and gardeners…. and food banks, AmpleHarvest.org works predominantly with America’s 61 million backyard gardeners and its 32,500 neighborhood food pantries. This is significantly different in that food pantries are local… food banks are regional. In Vermont for example, a gardener in the northern part of the state would have to drive 7 hours round trip to get to the only food bank in the state. AmpleHarvest.org would let him find one of the 140+ local food pantries instead. Most people would not drive 7 hours to donate food… many will drive across town or to the next town however. As such, food that would have been left to rot in the garden becomes available to hungry people. In short, AmpleHarvest.org makes produce donation a large scale opportunity … not just one for farmers and community gardens)
- AmpleHarvest.org allows pantries to describe food bought items they need – thereby eliminating the issue of people donating items that are already on pantry shelves. This makes AmpleHarvest.org usable both by gardeners off season as well as non-gardeners.
- AmpleHarvest.org provides the donor with personalized driving instruction from their home to the pantry and allows the pantry to post a photo making it easier for the donor to find the pantry.
- Another key distinction is that AmpleHarvest.org lets food pantries update their page as often as they need to. If too many of an item come in, they can ask that no more be delivered. They can also change delivery times as needed. In short, AmpleHarvest.org is a dynamic site, not just a static listing of names and addresses.
- AmpleHarvest.org actually makes the American food bank system more efficient. Food drive donated food must be inspected and sorted by warehouse staff whose time is better spent moving large volumes of food around by fork lift. Because AmpleHarvest.org diverts small volumes of food directly to the local food pantry, a regional food bank’s cost of operations is reduced.
- AmpleHarvest.org also provides the gardeners with information on their own state’s Cooperative Extension URL enabling them to get information on being a better gardener.
- AmpleHarvest.org differs from gleaning programs across the country in that food donated by AmpleHarvest.org growers is freshly harvested and donated on a same day basis, while store gleaned food is often produce nearing the end of its sales/distribution life cycle. The fresher the food is, the healthier it is. Additionally, gleaning depends upon finding volunteers to help handle the food (typically to a regional food bank) while AmpleHarvest.org takes advantage of the much larger pool of backyard gardeners across the country.
- Because food from gardeners delivered to pantries is on a same day basis, the pantry clients can get access to produce that is actually fresher than they could have bought in a store.
- Excess produce, if thrown into the garbage, produces 1 lb. of methane (a global warming gas 20 times worse than CO2) for every 1lb of tossed food. The reduction in global warming emissions and solid waste disposal are two secondary benefits of garden produce going to pantries instead of garbage dumps.
“If we’re going to have an ample harvest in our community garden, at the very least, it should be donated to the food pantries in town.
Gary Oppenheimer, Oct 2008
Shortly after Gary Oppenheimer became the director of the West Milford Community Garden in late 2008, he learned that some of the garden plot holders left large amounts of their garden produce unharvested when they grew more than they could possibly use.
Aware that hunger is a problem in our community, he suggested that they create a committee that would help to gather this extra food and deliver it to local food pantries. The local program was named Ample Harvest West Milford.
Food pantries however were hard to find, in large part because most operate without an Internet site or yellow page listing. Google for example listed the nearest food pantry as being in a town 25 miles away, even though our own town had several of them. And it turns out this same challenge was faced by backyard gardeners nationwide wishing to share their bounty.
To address this dilemma, Gary created AmpleHarvest.org, a new supply side channel in our national food network that would educate, encourage and enable gardeners with extra produce to easily donate to a local food pantry.
Initially conceived of in March 2009, with the help of two volunteer web designers (one of whom is a former food pantry client), the AmpleHarvest.org site rolled out nationally on May 18, 2009
In August of 2009, the National Gardening Association partnered with AmpleHarvest.org to help inform its members about the campaign.
On October 16, 2009 (World Food Day), only 150 days after its initial roll out, AmpleHarvest.org announced that the 1,000th food pantry (“Rosie’s Place Groceries” in Boston, MA) had joined the campaign.
In October 2009, the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions gave AmpleHarvest.org its 2009 Environmental Achievement Award.
In December 2009, at the recommendation of United Way, AmpleHarvest.org started to provide online resources to help individuals who had come to AmpleHarvest.org in need of food assistance.
In April 2010 AmpleHarvest.org became AmpleHarvest.org Inc. – a 501(c)(3) charitable organization (EIN #27-2433274).
In May 2010, AmpleHarvest.org Founder Gary Oppenheimer was named CNN Hero” on the Larry King Live show for his anti-hunger work in creating and promoting AmpleHarvest.org to food pantries and gardeners nationwide.
In August 2010, as part of its effort to diminish the environmental impact of food waste, AmpleHarvest.org was listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a food rescue resource.
On Nov 10, 2010, AmpleHarvest.org Founder Gary Oppenheimer was named “HuffPost’s Greatest Person Of The Day” by the Huffington Post for creating AmpleHarvest.org.
In 2011, AmpleHarvest.org was named winner of the Glynwood Harvest Wave of the Future Award, Gary was named winner of the 2011 Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference as well a Huffington Post 2011 Game Changer.
Apr 17, 2019 | AmpleHarvest.org Announces New Board President
Jan 19, 2019 | Thou Shall Not Waste Food
Aug 11, 2017 | Faith Leaders Unite to End Hunger
Mar 13, 2017 | DISH Cares and AmpleHarvest.org Announce Virtual Food Drive.
Oct 25, 2016 | 2016 Centerpieces for Pantries Launched.
Aug 10, 2016 | Save The Date: Food Waste Weekend
Oct 10 2014 | 7,000th Food Pantry Joins AmpleHarvest.org
AmpleHarvest.org To Be Recognized For Exceptional Service By Points of Light
June 3 2013 |AmpleHarvest.org Signs 6,000th Food Pantry
May 18 2012 |AmpleHarvest.org Marks Third Year Anniversary.
Oct 3 2011 |AmpleHarvest.org Announced as Winner of the Glynwood “2011 Wave of the Future” Award
May 23 2011 |AmpleHarvest.org Marks Its Two Year Anniversary
Jan 20 2010 |Announcing AmpleHarvest.org iPhone / iPod Touch app.
Additional Resources on Founder Gary Oppenheimer
Gary Oppenheimer, a CNN Hero, World Food Prize nominee, member of the James Beard Foundation Food Waste Advisory Board, lecturer and speaker (including two TEDx talks on AmpleHarvest.org and Why Food Drives Contribute to Hunger) and a Google Tech Talk.
He has been named the 2014 Yahoo! News/ABC News Best Person, won the 2013 Encore Purpose Prize Fellowship, won the Points of Light Tribute, was named Yahoo! and ABC News
Best Person in the World“, Huffington Post’s Greatest Person of the Day” and 2011 Game Changer“, winner of the Russell Berrie Foundation’s “Making A Difference” award, Grace Communications Ecocentric Hero, winner of the Glynwood 2011 Wave of the Future” award, winner of the 2012 Elfenworks In Harmony With Home” award, Echoing Green semifinalist and founder of the AmpleHarvest.org Campaign now makes his home in the mountains of northern New Jersey after having lived on a boat on the Hudson River in Manhattan since 1978. He is also a Master Gardener, Rutgers Environmental Steward, former community garden director, Environmental Commissioner in northern New Jersey, an avid gardener, and long distance cyclist.
After graduating from college with a degree in psychology, he promptly lost all interest in the field and instead became one of the early geeks in the personal computing arena (he soldered a computer together in 1976 – he still has it but is now afraid to now power it up) and designed a prototype email program for a mini-computer in 1977.
An early pioneer in the electronic mail industry, MCI Inc. asked Gary in 1985 to help them sell and support the then fledgling MCI Mail electronic mail service. Within a few years, he became their largest global sales agent (including producing what is believe to be the first “ezine” – published from 1985 to 1996) – while working from a home office located on the boat.
In the early 2000’s after buying a home deep in the woods in a rural northern New Jersey and planting an orchard and garden, Gary realized he actually needed to learn how to grow things and became a Master Gardener. A year later, he completed the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program.
Over the next several years, he expanded his home gardens, became a lecturer, an environmental commissioner in his town, advocated for region wide watershed preservation laws and became the director of a community garden.
Aware of the increasing hunger problem in America and, in 2009, after seeing the amount of wasted food in the community garden as well as other gardens around the country, he created AmpleHarvest.org – a nationwide effort to enable America’s 40+ million home gardeners who grow food to be able to easily find a local food pantry eager for their excess garden bounty.
He has appeared in numerous radio and TV interviews, has spoken at Wharton’s Social Responsibility conference, the Food Conference at UC Davis, Jewish Theological Seminary in New York Cty, the Brooklyn Food Conference, and many others.
Gary has also presented AmpleHarvest.org to USDA People’s Garden Initiative Conference in Washington DC, hosted a webinar for 100,000 invited USDA employees on gardening and hunger and has been interviewed numerous time by both print and electronic (local and network) media outlets nationwide.
Because AmpleHarvest.org worked closely with Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to improve fresh food access at thousands of food pantries nationwide, he had the opportunity to meet the President and First Lady and she subsequently highlighted AmpleHarvest.org in a speech in early 2012.
Backed by the USDA, Google Inc. the National Gardening Association, the National Council of Churches and many faith and service organizations, AmpleHarvest.org is now helping 8,636 food pantries be accessible to local gardeners and other donors.
He also enjoys boating, hiking, farming (chickens for eggs and vegetables) and attacking challenges of all sorts. Gary is a firm believer in the notion that to do the impossible, you must first believe it isn’t.
In addition to helping AmpleHarvest.org continue its expansion to food pantries and gardeners nationwide, Gary also does public speaking about hunger and AmpleHarvest.org , individuals making a difference in their community as well as a variety of environmental topics (contact[email protected] for more speaker information).
More Than me” (by Kelly Eldredge, published 2010), a book on “people reaching out to help others and in turn experiencing beautiful and unexpected changes of their own” has an entire chapter on Gary and his creation of AmpleHarvest.org.
Supporting the increasing interest younger people are placing on reducing food waste and related health issues, Gary has accepted a position on the Board of Visitors for the Campus Kitchen Project as well as acting as an advisor to the Food Recovery Network.
These high resolution photographs of AmpleHarvest.org founder Gary Oppenheimer are available for use with print and electronic articles/stories about AmpleHarvest.org. Any other use of these images is prohibited without prior written consent from AmpleHarvest.org, Inc. Please contact [email protected] for more information.