Ample Harvest

By Susan Littlefield

Did you count your blessings this Thanksgiving for a table set with a delicious feast? Sadly, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to enjoy such bounty. As a gardener, one way you can help address the problem of hunger in this country is by donating surplus produce from your garden to your local food shelf.

Helping folks to do this is the mission of Ample Harvest, a non-profit organization whose core mission is ″No Food Left Behind.″ While one out of six American needs food assistance and most food pantries offer little fresh produce, millions of home gardeners across the country grow more food than they can use.

Ample Harvest uses the power of the Internet to bring these two groups together. Food pantries can join a registry so local gardeners can find them; gardeners can search to find a local food pantry near them. Food pantries can list the days and hours that donations are accepted and list store-bought items they need as well. Gardeners can view all registered food pantries within a distance they are willing to travel and get a map and detailed driving instructions if needed. Nearly one out of ten of all food pantries in the country have already registered. Services are free of charge for both donors and food pantries.

With their ″Centerpieces for Pantries″ initiative, Ample Harvest encourages people to make edible arrangements of whole fruits and vegetables to decorate tables this holiday season, then donate the produce to a local food pantry the next day. Remember that foods must be whole, not carved or pierced with toothpicks. A bowl full of apples, pears, or winter squash makes a lovely, colorful centerpiece that can provide a further nutritious benefit to those in need.

To find out more about hunger in America, registering a food pantry, donating produce, or making a monetary donation, go to Ample Harvest.

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