Each week, the Feeding America food bank network serves 5.4 million individuals. More than half of the households served report at least one person employed during the last year, according to the Hunger in America 2014 report. This is unacceptable.
Whether they’re stretching a tiny budget (sometimes choosing between food or medicine) or relying on the assistance of SNAP Benefits, families are not able to get enough food. They are seeking out a food pantry to pick up some essential items to get them through the week. The Feeding America network of over 200 food banks spreads across the US. They help provide food to the tens of thousands of food pantries in local neighborhoods where it is then distributed to hungry families. It’s an incredible feat of logistics–gathering, purchasing, storing and distributing food day after day–and one might say it’s really the backbone of the charitable food distribution system in this county.
This week while feeding my family during the SNAP Challenge, I thought about all of the agencies and individuals who are working tirelessly to help hungry families make ends meet–thankful for all they are doing. But, while the essential safety net of the food bank system does an incredible job, it’s just not enough. AmpleHarvest.org works closely with Feeding America food banks across the country. We work alongside to fill in the gaps, helping food pantries to secure fresh food donations in addition to the non-perishable food provided by the food banks.
The first casualty of my family’s $4.50 per person per day budget on the SNAP Challenge was fresh produce. We chose items that were going to fill us up not necessarily the foods that would nourish us the best. It took a toll. Our moods, our energy, and our spirits weren’t fed by the fresh, local, and often organic food we are normally blessed to consume. I craved it. If we were one of the millions of families that actually relied on SNAP benefits (not just in a challenge) we would have gone from pantry to pantry looking for something fresh…something that came from the ground and not the factory.
That’s why I’m thankful for AmpleHarvest.org and why I feel fortunate to be working for this amazing organization. We help get fresh food to food pantries by encouraging gardeners to share the extra fruits and veggies they grow with a food pantry near them. People love gardening as a source of family or community togetherness, as a way to get outside and get exercise, as a way of beautifying their surroundings, and to have home grown veggies on the table. And there are LOTS of people doing it. More than 40 million, in fact, according to a National Gardening Association report. So, if all these millions of people are growing food, there’s bound to be extra. But many don’t know that they can share it. When a gardener has extra food to share, they can search for a food pantry near them at AmpleHarvest.org/find-pantry and then take their veggies to the pantry where they will be given away to hungry families.
AmpleHarvest.org helps gardeners feed their community. It’s not just helping people get fed, but it’s providing nourishing food to help fight diet-related illnesses. When you donate fresh vegetables a local food pantry, you’re providing an incredible gift to hungry moms and dads who desperately want to feed their kids healthy food, but can’t otherwise afford it.