Today, Oct 16, 2023, is World Food Day.
For the countless hunger programs that are working globally to address hunger and nutrition, this is the day to bring attention to their efforts. While AmpleHarvest.org is certainly one of those organizations, it is for us, a landmark day.
The first food pantry in our registry, St. Mary’s in Pompton Lakes NJ, signed up with AmpleHarvest.org as soon as they heard about us in 2009. I sent emails to all of the Feeding America food banks asking them to share this with their food pantries. Knowing that the majority of food pantries are in a house of worship, and knowing that the Catholic Church had an excellent top – down line of communication, starting with the Pope and going down to the local priest, I tried to engage them too. As it turned out, I missed the Pope, but Catholic Charities got wind of it, and within days, every Catholic church in America had been told about AmpleHarvest.org.
Several weeks into the effort, we got a Google AdWords grant ($10K of free advertising monthly) in record time for reaching out to America’s gardeners, to introduce them to the solution they had wanted all along – to donate their surplus harvests.
On World Food Day in 2009 which was 150 days after I launched AmpleHarvest.org, Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women in Boston, joined AmpleHarvest.org – the 1,000th food pantry to do so. Back then, Rosie’s Place’s food programs provided food for more than 700 households weekly. It has since grown its reach and impact significantly. “Our Dining Room served more than 100,000 hearty and healthy meals over the past year and every day we provided 350 households daily with nutritious groceries from our food pantry. We could not do this critical work without like-minded and innovative partners like AmpleHarvest.org and the generous gardeners they connect us with” according to Leemarie Mosca, President/CEO of Rosie’s Place.
AmpleHarvest.org’s simple idea – teaching an individual gardener that they can donate their surplus harvest to a nearby food pantry and then enabling them to do so, remains its singular focus. What started with St. Mary’s food pantry on May 18, 2009, today benefits more than 8,100 food pantries in 4,200 communities across all 50 states. And our newly upgraded technology now enables us to also help food pantries across all Native American Reservations.
World Food Day is focused on food programs helping to feed hungry people. AmpleHarvest.org remains focused on systemically ending the hunger and the waste of locally grown fresh food by creating a permanent conduit from the garden to the food pantry to the hungry family’s dinner table in any/every community in the country.
Hopefully, by next World Food Day, I’ll be able to report that the 10,000th food pantry joined AmpleHarvest.org. Who knows – it just may be the one down the road from you.