Yesterday morning, the grass still wet with dew, I snuck barefoot into the garden with my daughter to harvest some fresh food for our local food assistance facility. This is a new ritual I am committing to each week until the bounty of the garden wanes in the fall. I know many of you who follow Urban Exodus grow your own food. As someone who has been growing most of my family’s produce every summer for the last ten years I also know that there is ALWAYS excess. There are the greens that go to seed, the zucchinis that get slimy in the fridge, the cucumbers that turn to mush before pickling day.
What if you set aside a morning every week to venture into your garden and harvest a fresh box or two (or more!) of produce to bring to your local food bank? A bag of tomatoes or box of greens might seems like a drop in the bucket, but currently food banks are struggling to keep up with a dramatic increase in demand across the country. The hunger-relief organization, Feeding America estimates the pandemic could make an additional 17 million Americans food insecure this year. More than 82% of U.S. food banks are serving more people than they did last year, with an average increase of 50%.
Currently, one out of six Americans is food insecure, meaning they don’t know from where their next meal will come. No matter where you live, there are people in your community that are experiencing hunger. Food pantries help fill in the gaps but are continuously lacking in healthy, fresh produce to offer. Luckily, you can help alleviate this issue in your own neighborhood! As home gardeners or farmers, you are already doing a wonderful thing when you grow your own food. You know that freshly harvest produce is more nutrient dense and better for the environment because it doesn’t require long-distance transport. When you donate your excess garden bounty, you are helping to relieve hunger and making a positive impact on people’s health and the planet.
Consider planting an extra row or even a few additional plants in your fall garden to donate to a local food pantry. Ask your pantry is there is any particular crop that they have high demand for and grow it! And if you find yourself with a runaway zucchini plant or another bountiful crop that gives you more than you can eat, don’t let it go to waste! Even a small donation will help increase food security in your area.
I am partnering with @ampleharvest to encourage you to bring your growing excess to your local food relief center today. You can find a local food pantry by entering your zip code on AmpleHarvest.org’s website.
Once you've identified a pantry in your area, click on that pantry to learn more about them including crucial information like their hours of operation and how much fresh produce they can accept in one delivery. When in doubt, give them a call. Most pantries are happy to answer your questions and make donating super easy!
As a way to celebrate your garden gifts to your community I will be giving everyone who donates fresh produce a shout out in my stories. Just be sure to tag @theurbanexodus and #fillfoodbankswithfresh so I find your post.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be a huge haul - anything helps. Please share #fillfoodbankswithfresh with your friends and followers to keep the momentum going. The more who people donate their garden goodness, the more people can be served - let’s not let fresh produce go to waste this year. Right now the world desperately needs more kindness and more giving. If we want a better future for all, we need to take an active role in working towards that progress.
Wishing you kindness and health,