Take Action to End Hunger and Wasted Food with AmpleHarvest.org

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Take Action to End Hunger and Wasted Food Now with AmpleHarvest.org

1. Make a tax-deductible donation to AmpleHarvest.org.  In a traditional food drive, one can of food equals one can of food. A monetary donation to AmpleHarvest.org equals countless pounds of fresh food donated to food pantries across America. Every dollar you give goes a long way to end hunger and wasted food in ALL 50 states.  Visit www.AmpleHarvest.org/donate to make a secure donation online.

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2. If you’ve got even the tiniest of green thumbs, pledge to plant some extra veggies in your garden to donate to your local food pantry. Take the pledge hereScreen shot 2014-09-03 at 10.05.41 AM

3. If your thumbs aren’t green at all, that’s ok! Tap into your creative side and create a whole fruit or vegetable centerpiece for your holiday table. When you’re done enjoying it, donate the whole thing to your local food pantry and it will bless TWO tables! Read more about our Centerpieces for Pantries campaign at www.AmpleHarvest.org/holiday

Centerpieces for Pantries

4. Help us spread the word about AmpleHarvest.org the 42 million Americans who are growing food gardens! Like our facebook page, and invite your friends to like it too. Join us on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Write a blog article about AmpleHarvest.org–there’s a sample blog post and graphics on this page.

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5. Help a food pantry get registered on AmpleHarvest.org so that growers can find them when they have extra food to donate.  When you’ve located a food pantry in your community, check to see if they are already registered by searching at www.AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry. If they are not there, give them a call or send them an email letting them know that registering on AmpleHarvest.org is FREE and it will help them get fresh food donations for their clients!

 

AmpleHarvest.org – Also Getting People Fed

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AmpleHarvest.org – Also Helping People Get Fed.
By Gary Oppenheimer

Gary Oppenheimer is the Founder and Executive Director of AmpleHarvestorg

Gary Oppenheimer is the Founder and Executive Director of AmpleHarvestorg

People like to think of AmpleHarvest.org as “that website that connects gardeners to food pantries” and they are right because that what we’ve been telling them for more than 5 years. However, that perspective is as simplistic as thinking that the importance of the invention of the syringe is that it allows you to inject a fluid into a person.  Accurate but incomplete.

You can also think of the syringe as the device that helped to eliminate small pox from across the planet, helps to keep another 1918 flu pandemic from killing tens of millions of people, or helps to assure that no more children will face the risk of living their life in an iron lung.

Or you can just think of it as a long pointy device that can hurt.  Again, correct but not completely correct.

In 2009, AmpleHarvest.org launched when a complaint from someone in a community garden about food going to waste was followed by my, “If we are going to have an ample harvest, let’s give it to people who really need it” response.

For a long time, I thought that we were feeding people.  That was accurate but incomplete.  We are getting people fed but not by feeding them.  However, thinking… and saying…. that we’re feeding people did help the public understand AmpleHarvest.org even though it made funding more difficult because people being fed was the outcome of our actual core work – ending the waste of food.

In short, I had forgotten that AmpleHarvest.org started because too much food was being left in a garden and not because people in the community were hungry.  My bad.

Food BoxesAs I’ve stepped back from the weeds to better look at the forest, I’ve come to better understand that AmpleHarvest.org’s true magic is that by reducing the waste of food, especially garden produce, it helps the environment, reduces the costs of feeding programs, reduces the long term health care costs of the country and it builds bridges between the people in the community and the food pantries in the community.  Oh yea… it also helps people get fed.

For example, I have had speaking engagements over the past few years at Wharton, Temple University and U Penn.  Philly seems to have a love affair with AmpleHarvest.org.

For each of these events as well as many others I’ve attended, they’ve had more box lunches than the number of people who ultimately showed up.lunch box donations

In the past, they would have been thrown away—increasing the waste stream and wasting both money and the food.

In each case however, by using AmpleHarvest.org much as a gardener would, the extra food was donated to a nearby food pantry, soup kitchen or shelter because the event organizer realized that the old ways of doing things are not necessarily the best ways of doing things.  And I suspect that going forward, excess box lunches will continue to be donated which will help the environment, reduce costs at the receiving agency (pantry, etc.), provide nutrition that will help local families and build will bridges within the community.

Oh yeah… it will also help people get fed.

Not all donations are created equal – AmpleHarvest.org

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There’s a strange magic that happens when you donate to AmpleHarvest.org.  For our first act, we’ll quadruple your donation. Ta-da! That’s right, from now until December 12, for every dollar you donate, an anonymous donor will match it with an additional THREE dollars–up to $10,000.  That’s pretty magical, right? But, our second act will knock your socks off.  When you make a donation to AmpleHarvest.org, your money goes a long way….farther than you might think.

Every donation you make to AmpleHarvest.org helps us reach MILLIONS of gardeners across the United States. When a gardener or farmer learns that he or she can donate food to their local food pantry, they can continue to donate for the rest of their gardening life. Your donation helps us connect them to a food pantry so that millions of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables can be shared with those in need–year after year after year.

Not all donations are created equal:

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In a traditional food drive, one can of food equals one can of food. A monetary donation to AmpleHarvest.org equals countless pounds of fresh food donated to food pantries across America for years to come.

Make a donation before December 12th (to have it quadrupled!) and we’ll use our strange magic to multiply the impact a million times over.   Visit www.AmpleHarvest.org/donate to make a secure donation online, or download this form to send a check in the mail.

Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday Fatigue – AmpleHarvest.org

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Is it Wednesday yet?

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that today is “Cyber Monday” -a day of great deals and discounts for online purchases.  You may also be aware that tomorrow is “Giving Tuesday” -a day to give back and do good after a long weekend of over-eating and over-shopping.

We’ve got a better idea: let’s just combine them!  Shop online today at Amazon.com and find some great deals. When you shop, let Amazon make a donation to AmpleHarvest.org on your behalf. It’s really easy!

Visit www.AmpleHarvest.org/Amazon or click the AmazonSmile button to the right – this will take smile buttonyou to our AmazonSmile page where every qualified purchase you make triggers a donation to AmpleHarvest.org from the AmazonSmile Foundation on your behalf.  It’s really easy and your Cyber Monday shopping will help us reduce hunger and malnutrition across the United States.

Help us spread the word by forwarding this email to your friends and family. Pssst: If you include your Christmas wish list they can help AmpleHarvest.org AND get you what you really want for Christmas.

Our AmazonSmile program works 365 days a year, so you can even make a difference on regular old boring, no-name Wednesday if you’d like.  Just remember to bookmark the link so that all of your future eligible shopping will benefit AmpleHarvest.org.

Giving More than Thanks this Thanksgiving – AmpleHarvest.org

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Can any more things be crammed into one week? We’re traveling, cooking, shopping, eating–some of us doing one or more of these almost at the competitive level–and on top of all of that, we’re supposed take some time to really appreciate what we have and be thankful for it.

Whew. I’m tired already.

Thanksgiving can be pretty tough…like, when that one family member insists on talking about all of the subjects you’d rather avoid, when the weather ruins your travel plans, when your team loses the big game, or when you get stuck in “black friday” traffic when you’re just trying to get to your Aunt’s house to meet your newest cousin before you head back home. But, sometimes the giving thanks part can be the hardest.

We’re not conditioned to appreciate what we have. It’s not a natural part of our human nature. Just ask a 4 year old to come up with 5 things he’s thankful for…mine is already saying thanks for that one Christmas present he KNOWS Santa is going to bring him (wink wink).  We want stuff, we want more than we have now, and we’re not good at being happy with what we’ve got.

If you’re finding it hard to give thanks, just imagine an empty plate.  Imagine what millions of Americans face every day–the panic and insecurity of not know where their next meal is coming from.  If you have something to be thankful for, consider giving more than just thanks. Give of your abundance to help a family in need.

Any uncut fruits and vegetables or unopened food items that you haven’t used this Thanksgiving can be donated to those in need. If you’ve made a beautiful edible centerpiece for your holiday table (www.AmpleHarvest.org/Holiday), find a food pantry near you at www.AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry and make a donation.

And, bring that 4 year old along too. Maybe if he’s shown an example of honest gratitude and humble giving, he’ll grow up to be a little more compassionate, and slightly less obsessed with what’s going to be under the Christmas tree.

GIVE THANKS for what you have, and work

DIY End Hunger with Centerpieces for Food Pantries

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DIY End Hunger with Centerpieces for Food Pantries

Centerpieces for Pantries

AmpleHarvest.org encourages and enables gardeners across the United States to donate their excess garden bounty to local food pantries. But, what about when the garden is resting for the winter? You can still reduce hunger in your community with this super fun and creative DIY project called Centerpieces for Food Pantries.  The idea is simple and possibilities are endless! Here’s how:

1. Gather some fresh fruits and vegetables from Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 12.43.31 PMyour garden, the grocery, or farmers market.

2. Arrange the whole, uncut fruits and vegetables in a basket, bowl or just on your table. Be sure to take a picture of your creation and share it with us. Post it to our Facebook wall, upload it to Instagram and tag it with hashtag #ampleharvest, or email it to us at iShared@AmpleHarvest.org.

3. Enjoy! Display your creation on your holiday dinner table. Make it a conversation piece! Tell your family and friends that you care about the 1 in 6 Americans who don’t know where their next meal is coming from and you are doing your part to help the hungry in your community. Tell Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 12.43.44 PMthem that the beautiful food that’s decorating your table today will be donated to a local food pantry to help feed a family in need.

4. Donate that food!  Visit www.AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry to search for a food pantry near you.  Any pantry you find on our site is ready and able to accept fresh food donations. You can find the hours they are open and in many cases you can see a list of other items that they may need as well.

Time to get started! Here are some more pictures to inspire you. All were made by our Instagram friend @uprootny. To read more about the campaign visit www.AmpleHarvest.org/holiday

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Food Day 2014 – AmpleHarvest.org

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food-day_2014October 24 is Food Day–a day to resolve to make changes in our own diets and to take action to solve food-related problems in our communities at the local, state, and national level. This annual event involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it. With Food Day, we can celebrate our food system when it works and fix it when it’s broken.

AmpleHarvest.org is a national partner of Food Day 2014 because we believe that when we work together we can reduce hunger in our communities by increasing access to fresh and healthy foods for all. We believe that no food should be wasted. No food should be left behind in a home or community garden. We work hard to make it simple for food growers of all stripes to donate their extra vegetables, fruits, herbs and nuts to their local food pantries where it can be distributed to our most vulnerable communities.

Join us in celebrating this world day of action and reflection by getting involved with our campaign to move food from garden to pantry!  From the comfort of your home computer (or work computer on your coffee break!), you can make a huge difference in your community.  Here are some simple ways to take action for Food Day:

1. If you’ve got even the tiniest of green thumbs, pledge to plant some extra veggies in your garden to donate to your local food pantry. Take the pledge hereScreen shot 2014-09-03 at 10.05.41 AM

2. If your thumbs aren’t green at all, that’s ok! Tap into your creative side and create a whole fruit or vegetable centerpiece for your holiday table. When you’re done enjoying it, donate the whole thing to your local food pantry and it will bless TWO tables! Read more about our Centerpieces for Pantries campaign at www.AmpleHarvest.org/holiday

Centerpieces for Pantries

3. Help us spread the word about AmpleHarvest.org the 42 million Americans who are growing food gardens! Like our facebook page, and invite your friends to like it too. Join us on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Write a blog article about AmpleHarvest.org–there’s a sample blog post and graphics on this page.

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4. Help a food pantry get registered on AmpleHarvest.org so that growers can find them when they have extra food to donate.  When you’ve located a food pantry in your community, check to see if they are already registered by searching at www.AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry. If they are not there, give them a call or send them an email letting them know that registering on AmpleHarvest.org is FREE and it will help them get fresh food donations for their clients!

 

Food Pantry Friday

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“If we all donate a little bit, it can make a big difference in the lives of others.”

Guest blog post by Jackie Tona, Case Worker at Ruth’s Place – Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania located in Wilkes-Barre, PA


Most of us know if one eats well one does well. In my time here at Ruth’s Place, a Program of Volunteers of America, I’ve found that many people in the community are very giving of food donations. We have local bakeries who donate breads and pastries and also volunteers in the community who come in and make dinners for the women residing in the shelter. At any given time, you can look in our food pantry and find canned anything; pastas, cereals and anything else that has a shelf life of a few years. One thing that isn’t commonly found is fresh produce.

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Fresh produce donation photo by Jenny Rottinger

Most people know that eating more fruits and vegetables will give you more energy and make you feel better, but most times at the shelter we don’t have access to produce. Lately, there has been a push with some local produce being donated from Fertile Grounds CSA and through gardeners finding us via AmpleHarvest.org. The women in the shelter are very excited and grateful to have access to fresh food to prepare and eat.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Fertile Grounds CSA, it is a local organic vegetable farm where people can pay an annual fee and receive a weekly box of fresh grown produce. Fertile Grounds has been extremely giving by donating to not only Ruth’s Place, but to many other programs in the area.

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My point? If you have extra produce that may just sit in your fridge or on your counter that will turn black and go bad, why not donate it to some people in the community that would appreciate and enjoy the food? I know that I buy produce and have had many weeks where I throw it out because it has gone bad before I eat it, but I won’t do that anymore. There are too many people less fortunate who aren’t getting the access to healthy foods, which are shown to improve mood and fight disease! If we all donate a little bit, it can make a big difference in the lives of others.


If you would like to be featured in a Food Pantry Friday post, please contact Leanne Mazurick, Food Pantry Outreach Coordinator at Leanne@AmpleHarvest.org

7,000th Food Pantry on AmpleHarvest.org

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The 7,000th Food Pantry has Registered at AmpleHarvest.org!

Copy of shutterstock_184907459NANA’s House in Mastic NY recently registered itself at AmpleHarvest.org and joined the
previously registered 6,999 pantries, further expanding access to fresh food for their clients.

According to Wendy Falanga of NANA’s House, “Fresh produce donations are so important to our organization, especially since we provide food and services to children. Most of the time we receive canned goods and other non-perishable items, which are appreciated, but do not offer as much nutrition as fresh vegetables. Receiving fresh produce donations would help us offer more nutritious options to the children we serve, so we are excited to be a part of AmpleHarvest.org and hope the community will share their extra produce with us!”

The historic inability to donate fresh food to a community food program has contributed to
America’s huge food waste problem while also forcing nearby food programs to only offer
processed food. Every food program that registers at AmpleHarvest.org is another point on the map that growers can find and support – for the rest of their gardening life.

To register your food pantry visit AmpleHarvest.org/register. Or to find a pantry to donate your extra garden bounty, visit AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry

Extension Master Gardeners

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As the Grower Outreach Coordinator for AmpleHarvest.org I have the privilege of communicating with farmers and gardeners from all over the United States. Through our social media sites–especially Instagram–I get to see what folks are growing, celebrate their bountiful harvests, and commiserate with them when something destroys their precious pumpkins (the squash vine borer was particularly brutal this year, apparently).  Gardeners like to talk, and brag, and ask for help, and advise. It’s a beautiful thing. But, I’m always surprised by how few people are aware of one of the greatest FREE gardening resources available: the Extension Master Gardeners.

EMG logoPicture a league of 95,000 garden experts who have been trained on things like taxonomy, plant pathology, soil health, entomology, sustainable gardening, and integrated pest management for their own specific growing region and zone. Not only are they highly trained garden experts, but as a condition of the training they have received from the county agricultural extension office, they are required to donate dozens of hours of community service through which they share their gardening know-how.  That right, there are people who live right in your neighborhood that probably have answers to all of your gardening questions, and they are ready to help!

Many of the county extension offices will have an Extension Master Gardener on-call. You just call up the hotline and ask your question. (Our founder and Executive Director, Gary Oppenheimer, is an EMG in New Jersey and he spent some of his volunteer hours on the garden hotline there!).

You can find your county extension office and Extension Master Gardener Program by searching here.  They exist to serve. This is a volunteer program and we should all be taking advantage of this wealth of knowledge! (Check out the EMG blog at: http://blogs.extension.org/mastergardener)

The other thing we LOVE about the EMGs is that thousands upon thousands of them are using their knowledge to help feed the hungry in their community. According to a 2009 EMG Survey, nearly 700,000 pounds of produce has been donated to local food banks due to the work of EMGs across the country.

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Here’s what we’d love to see: We’d love to see ALL 95,000 EMGs growing and donating food to a food pantry found at AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry. We’d love to see YOU have the best garden you’ve ever had by utilizing the help of these amazing volunteers. And we’d love your help to spread the word about this amazing program by sharing this blog post with your gardening friends.

With your help and the help of the Extension Master Gardeners nation-wide, we can reduce hunger and malnutrition in every community in the United States! Happy Gardening, everyone!