Before you order garden seeds this year think about this.
It’s the end of August and you have way too many squash. You’ve given so many away to your friends and family that it’s no longer gracious; it’s mean.
Did you know you can donate them to a local food assistance organization? Not only are you relieved of pounds of vegetables you just can’t consume, you can feel good about providing fresh local food to people who don’t have regular access to it, and it’s a tax write off. The food pantry, or soup kitchen, or church kitchen gives you a receipt for whatever is the market value of the donated produce.
A new website, one which Michelle Obama has promoted in her Let’s Move program, makes doing this easy. Go to AmpleHarvest.org, and click on the section for Gardeners: find a local food pantry if you have food you want to donate.
The results will give you the closest food assistance agencies accepting donated garden produce. I put in my zip code and The Open Door popped up.
Founded by Gary Oppenheimer, a self-described aging hippie, old geek who hates waste, AmpleHarvest.org is being met on the internet with open arms. Google has donated $480,000 in free advertising. The Huffington Post declared Oppenheimer “The Greatest Person of the Day.”
CNN, CBS, and Fox news have done stories on AmpleHarvest.org.
The EPA is looking into using AmpleHarvest.org as a resource for eliminating waste. (A truck spills on Rt. 95, unloading a thousand pounds of carrots that now a grocery store won’t accept. The clean-up people can go to AmpleHarvest.org and find the closest place to donate it.)
FEMA is looking into the importance of AmpleHarvest.org for leaving behind an improved local food system once it’s entered a stricken community.
The White House loves AmpleHarvest.org; The average home gardener produces 300 pounds of produce a year. If one out of ten people donated 2 shopping bags of produce that would mean 200 million pounds of fresh produce getting into our food system. We all should like that.
Here’s another AmpleHarvest.org idea: If you’re having a party, instead of a flower arrangement on the table, arrange beautiful fruits and vegetables, but plan on donating them afterward to your local food assistance organization.
If someone dies, donate their kitchen contents to a shelter.
The only technical part of the operation is that food assistance organizations need to sign up so they’re visible on the website. It’s easy to do, so if you belong to one, know of one, work for one, make sure your agency is registered on AmpleHarvest.org.
Photos courtesy of AmpleHarvest.org