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What We Do

AmpleHarvest.org is a nationwide platform that is eliminating the waste of 11 billion pounds of fresh garden produce per year. Through AmpleHarvest.org, gardeners connect with their local food pantry and donate their extra produce.

The Problem

America is in the midst of a food crisis. Food pantries typically lack fresh produce, and are typically only stocked with canned fruit and vegetables.

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.

  • 42 million people (1 in 6) are food insecure without access to fresh food
  • $218 billion worth of food (1/3 of all food) is wasted annually
  • 50% of our produce is never consumed
  • 32,500 (or more) food pantries in America, many without enough fresh fruits and vegetables

AmpleHarvest.org helps to significantly lower the future health care costs in America.

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.

TheOpportunity Solving Food Waste and Solving Hunger

    • 61 million Gardeners in America, many with excess produce
    • 11.5 billion Pounds of garden produce becomes food waste annually
    • 4 of 5 Gardeners are willing and able to donate produce
    • 28 million People in America could be nourished annually
    • $58 billion annual recuction in the nation’s healthcare costs

Special thanks

Special thank you to Christopher Reberger, Global Economics and Research Practice Cisco Consulting Services (Cisco Systems) for the data analysis and oversight he provided and to report authors Dr. Selena Ahmed and Dr. Carmen Byker Shanks, Montana State University Food and Health Lab faculty for analyzing the data and generating the report.

Meanwhile, more than 61 million Americans 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.

How It Works

AmpleHarvest.org is a free, opt-in, nationwide registry that enables gardeners who’ve grown 
too much food to easily find food pantries in their area.

  1. 01

    It Starts with the PantryFood Pantries tell AmpleHarvest.org the days and times they want to receive fresh food.

    Most food pantries find that gardeners’ produce is quickly taken by their clients — often with hours of delivery. Refrigerated storage is rarely an issue.

  2. 02

    Next up, the GardenersGardeners find pantries on AmpleHarvest.org, and bring their surplus of locally grown, fresh food.

    The best part? The food comes without packaging and isn’t trucked across the country, which is better for the environment.

  3. 03

    The End result?People in need have healthier food options available to them.

    Eating fresh lowers the risk of diet related illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Our Two Tiered Approach

  • Informing Millions of Gardeners

    AmpleHarvest.org works to educate, encourage and enable gardeners nationwide to donate their excess produce to a local food pantry. Historically, gardeners did not know that they should donate their excess harvest, they did not know that they could donate their excess harvest and they did not know where to donate their excess harvest.

  • Registering Thousands of Food Pantries

    AmpleHarvest.org has been engaged in a massive nationwide education program to help America’s 62 million home gardeners learn about the opportunity to share their excess garden bounty with their neighbors in need. AmpleHarvest.org works to educate, encourage and enable food pantries nationwide to receive excess produce from local growers. Historically, many food pantries did not know that they could be found by members of the community with extra food. They did not know that they did not need refrigeration or extra storage to accept the food and they did not know how to reach out to their community to receive the extra food.

How is AmpleHarvest.org Different?

  • We work with gardeners and pantries, not farms.

    AmpleHarvest.org works predominantly with America’s 61 million backyard gardeners and its 32,500 neighborhood food pantries. This is significantly different from other programs 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 connects them with one of the 140+ local food pantries instead. Most people would not drive 7 hours to donate food, but many will drive across town or to the next town. 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.

  • We make 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.

  • We allow pantries to describe store bought/food items they need.

    This eliminates 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.

  • We help gardeners become better gardeners.

    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.

  • We make it easy for donors to find pantries.

    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.

  • Food donated by Ampleharvest.org growers is freshly harvested.

    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. 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.

  • We let food pantries update their page as often as they need.

    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.

  • We're helping reduce global warming.

    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.

  • We added “Just-In-Time” logic to a food program.

    Just in time inventory logic isn’t only for large businesses anymore. While other food donation programs deliver donated food based on when they get it, AmpleHarvest.org enables food pantries to receive the food just before they need it. If a food pantry distributes food Sundays from noon to 3, AmpleHarvest.org enables them to inform the gardeners that donations are best Sunday morning, which in turn guides the gardener to a best day/time to harvest the food. Therefore, food goes from the garden to a hungry families’ dinner table within hours, providing them with the freshest food possible while also eliminating the need for additional costly storage and refrigeration at the food pantry – a chokepoint that prevented fresh food donations in the past.

  • We inform food pantries about what’s being harvested locally.

    While we can find any food at any time of the year in a supermarket, the actual time of the year that a gardener can harvest a particular crop varies from place to place depending on the USDA agricultural zone they are in. AmpleHarvest.org helps food pantries and soup kitchens better manage expectations by providing guidance on what is being harvested in their community.

Explore the impact that our work at Ampleharvest.org is having on fighting hunger in America.

Our Impact

Here are ways you can help the effort.

  • Donate

    Your gift creates a sustainable and recurring opportunity for millions of gardeners to share their harvest with neighborhood food pantries.

    Learn More
  • Donate Excess Produce to a Pantry

    Reach into your backyard to help your neighbors in need.

    Learn More
  • More Ways to Support

    While we of course accept donations, you don’t have to have a lot of money to help us make a difference!

    Learn More

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