Nationwide (Fresh) Food Drive

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The USDA’s nationwide food drive, Feds Feed Families, hit the road last week for an awesome event in Memphis, TN at the Agricenter International‘s Farmers’ Market.  I had the pleasure of stopping by to catch some of the action and meet some of the amazing folks behind the Feds Feed Families campaign.  As you may know, AmpleHarvest.org has teamed up with FFF this year to help encourage federal employees–who might also be gardeners–to donate their extra fresh veggies and fruits to their local food pantry.  But, there are many ways for federal employees (and others) to ramp up the amount of FRESH food that is collected during this nationwide food drive, and in Memphis last week, we got pumped up about what we can do!

Karen ComfortKaren Comfort, FFF National Program Manager, gave the rallying cry to fill empty shelves at food distribution centers across America, reminding us that this time of year, supply goes down while demand increases. Julius Johnson, Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, encouraged us to visit one of over 140 farmers markets across the state to shop for ourselves and even buy extra to donate to share with those in need.  Nathan Dryden, Program Coordinator for the Society of St. Andrew, Tennessee reminded us that there are millions of pounds of produce in fields and orchards that can be gleaned and donated to help feed the hungry. In 2013 alone, the Society of St. Andrew harvested 32.3 million pounds of food that would have been thrown away.  And, to drive it all home, David Stephens, of the Mid-South Food Bank pleaded for help.  He said the summer is the worst time of year for the food bank.  Their inventory is down by more than 30% but their 237 partner agencies, across 31 counties, are asking for more food because more people are in need.

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It was easfarmers market aisley to be inspired. Before the event began, I strolled through the market aisles filled with colorful fruits and vegetables. I bought a fresh squeezed lemonade (because, it’s Memphis and it’s July) and saw people filling donation bins with food from the market. The FFF food drive is a great opportunity to get involved in feeding our nation’s hungry. Let the FFF campaign inspire you to get involved. Even if you’re not a federal employee, you can make a difference. Whether you’re growing, gleaning, or buying extra at a farmers market to share, you are helping to feed our nation’s hungry.

As always, you can find a food pantry near you at www.AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Pantry Friday

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It’s Food Pantry Friday and today we are welcoming food pantries in the following cities and towns that have recently registered on www.AmpleHarvest.org: Caldwell, ID / Danbury, CT / Reno, NV / Hempstead, NY / Kuna, ID / Cary, NC / Blackfoot, ID / Birmingham, AL / Star, ID / Culdesac, ID / Bearsville, NY / Madison, WI / Toms River, NJ / Columbus, GA / Bay Shore, NY / Houston, TX and West Islip, NY.

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Fresh produce donation by the New Jersey Youth Corp of Phillipsburg’s Garden to the NORWESCAP Food Bank

Please let gardeners in your community know that they can donate their extra fruits and vegetables to a local food pantry. Local pantries can be found by visiting: www.AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry

Chocolate Covered Broccoli – Healthy Food Gets a Bad Rap

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rachel apple picking

Rachel Dlugash, AmpleHarvest.org Guest Blogger and Senior Research Data Manager at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Chocolate Covered Broccoli – By Rachel Dlugash

We all need to eat healthy, but unfortunately our current food system makes unhealthy food much more appealing than healthy food. One of the hardest hurdles for people that are addicted to food, unlike smoking, drugs or other addictions where they should be completely removed from their life, is that people trying to eat less still need to eat, they just need to eat smarter. And healthy food has traditionally had the reputation of being worse tasting, but you eat it because it is better for you. Similarly, computer games have been shown to have remarkable cognitive benefits, but games that are geared towards education or health benefits are viewed as not fun. And even when researchers try to make them fun, they do not have the popularity of games created by the gaming industry, instead they are described as chocolate covered broccoli – something healthy trying to pose as something tasty. A continual challenge in the nutrition field has been to try to show that healthy foods are tasty.

As an Intern at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), I worked on a project to organize a panel of speakers about neurogaming.   The International Neuroethics Society held a program called “Neurogaming: What’s Neuroscience and Ethics Got to Do With It?”. When games that can read your brain waves to determine what interests you and then adapt the game in real time accordingly are already in the pipeline, it is easy to see why it could cause ethical concerns. Can you imagine if fast food companies were able to use this technology, or to access this brain wave data to better target their advertising?   This would be a huge blow to marketers of fresh and healthy foods.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 10.00.13 AMUnfortunately, advocates of healthy eating do not have the money to promote nutritious foods the way that the commercial food industry giants have, both to create the marketing campaigns, and to do the research to understand what will make their marketing campaign most effective. I always enjoyed the “Got Milk?” campaigns, and although the advertising agency that introduced this phase almost didn’t because they thought it was lazy and grammatically incorrect, it turned out to be highly successful. Instead of focusing on the health benefits, they focused on making drinking milk cool, and the campaign has over 90% awareness in the US. Not bad for the California dairy industry, who do not have the budget of Coca Cola or PepsiCo.

I was encouraged the other day when I ran passed a lady talking on her phone, eagerly describing how delicious what she was eating was. She said it was raw green beans, and that they were tastier than she could have ever imagined. In the beautiful summer months, the variety of fruits and vegetables are plentiful and this is when AmpleHarvest.org needs all gardeners to bring any produce they can to their local food pantries, so that we can let the flavors of the fruits and vegetables advertise themselves.

Food Pantry Friday

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It’s Food Pantry Friday and this week we are welcoming 31 new pantries (21 of them in Idaho!) to AmpleHarvest.org.

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Recently registered food pantries can be found in the following cities/towns: Boise, ID / Holbrook, NY / Garden City, ID / Blackfoot, ID / Weippe, ID / Lewiston, ID / Elida, OH / Kimberly, ID / Cascade, ID / Fruitland, ID / Burleson, TX / Grand View, ID / Nampa, ID / Middleton, ID / Soldotna, AK / Bellevue, ID / Kamiah, ID / Santa Rosa, CA / Copiague, NY / Buhl, ID / Orlando, FL / Chicago, IL and Danbury, CT

These pantries and many more on our site are looking forward to fresh produce donations from your garden! Find a pantry near you by visiting: www.AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry

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Food Pantry Friday

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It’s time once again for Food Pantry Friday – Our way of letting you know the cities and towns of food pantries that have recently joined the AmpleHarvest.org network!

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This week we are welcoming pantries in the following cities/towns: Wheatley Heights, NY / Orting, AK / Littleton, NH / Devils Lake, ND / Cincinnati, OH / Linden, TX / Las Angeles, CA / Lewiston, ID / Richmond, VA / Redmond, OR / Howell, NJ / Farmingdale, NY / Fargo, ND / Madison, AL / Bellmore, NY / Lindenhurst, NY / Freeport, NY / Champaign, IL / Copiague, NY / Elmsford, NY / Lake Ronkonkoma, NY / Cerro Gordo, IL / Farrell, PA / Bay Shore, NY / Huntington Station, NY / Huntersville, NC / Pocatello, ID / Fruitland, ID / Buhl, ID / Driggs, ID/ Nampa, ID and Bronx, NY

Interested in donating to a food pantry near you? Visit: www.AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry

Food pantries interested in registering on www.AmpleHarvest.org can do so here: www.AmpleHarvest.org/register

Lettuce and kale donated to a food pantry in Northeast PA

Feds Feed Families and AmpleHarvest.org

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Gary Oppenheimer is the Founder and Executive Director of AmpleHarvestorg

Gary Oppenheimer is the Founder and Executive Director of AmpleHarvestorg

Feds Feed Families Food Drive

Imagine you own a company – a few dozen employees or maybe tens of thousands spread across America.

Like you, they are generous in supporting charities important to them, and if your company is anything like Google or Citrix, your company will even match donation made to AmpleHarvest.org.

Also, like countless other business, schools, houses of worship and more, you periodically run a food drive, inviting your employees to bring food from home or a store to the office so it can be donated to a regional food bank.

Now imagine you are the largest employer in America and you have nearly 4.3 million employees across thousands of offices, and while you are not legally allowed to match monitary donations your employees chose to make, you are allowed to do food drives to help them help the hungry.

Since 2009, employees of the federal government have donated more than 24.1 million pounds of food and other non-perishable items to help families across all 50 states.

Like every other food drive in America, the message has always been “jars, cans or boxes – no fresh food please!”

FFFUntil now.

After three years of working with our friends at the USDA and thanks to a final push by both Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative as well as Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s (Maine) office, the estimated one million federal employees who happen to also be home gardeners are being told that now, they can donate fresh food from their home and community garden directly to a local food pantry – easily found at www.AmpleHarvest.org/FFF. This special page created for federal employees works just like the rest of AmpleHarvest.org but also includes a special reporting form to help FFF track their donations.

People working for Uncle Sam are our friends and neighbors and their budgets are as tight as anyone else’s. For many of them, giving charity further stresses an already stresses personal budget resulting in an abundance of desire to give constrained by fiscal limitations we all face.

Why would a congresswoman from Maine, get involved? Because even in a state with a shorter than normal growing season, AmpleHarvest.org can help. According to Rep. Pingree, “AmpleHarvest.org has already made it possible for millions of pounds of fresh, locally grown and harvest food to make its way to food pantries that help families struggling to put a meal on the table.  This collaboration with the federal government and millions of public employees is going to make it possible for even more Americans to have access to fresh vegetables and fruits, grown and donated by their neighbors. I’m thrilled that this common-sense partnership is going to happen.“

Thanks to AmpleHarvest.org now partnered with FFF, the scope of someone’s donation is limited not to the depth of their pocketbook but by the size of the garden, the length of their growing season, and their desire for a better America.

If you know of someone working for Uncle Sam, please send them to http://www.ampleharvest.org/FFFposter.

 

 

 

Top 5 Tips for Reducing Food Waste at Home

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TOP 5 TIPS for REDUCING FOOD WASTE at HOME
While most of the world’s food waste happens somewhere between the farm and point of sale, each of us can do our part to reduce food waste at home to help stem the flow. To close out our month-long focus on the subject, we’ve put together our Top 5 Tips for Reducing Food Waste at Home. Leave a comment and let us know what else you’re doing to reduce the food waste in your life!Screen shot 2014-06-30 at 10.07.16 AM

1. Plan a menu and stick to it.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I should never go grocery shopping while I’m hungry”? Well, you were right. When you’re hungry at the store, you tend to shop with your tummy and not your brain (at least I do). I tend to buy everything that looks really good and I forget to stick to my list—assuming everything will be eaten as soon as I get home. But, sadly those extra things tend to go bad before that happens. When you plan your meals in advance, check your recipes, and make your shopping list accordingly, you will buy only what you need, and what you will use, and less will be wasted. So, muster up your stick-to-itiveness skills (and grab a snack) before you head to the store!

Helpful tip: Use mobile app, 222 Million Tons, which gets it’s name from the amount of food wasted annually across the globe, pairs your household size and meal preferences with shopping lists and recipes that will use up everything you purchase.

2. Compost it.

At AmpleHarvest.org we’re all about making fresh fruits and vegetables a part of everyone’s diet. But, when you cook with fresh foods, there will inevitably be scraps that don’t make it into the meal—corn husks, the pointy ends of fresh green beans, eggshells, and even the stalks on the broccoli that no one in my family will eat for some reason. These things should not be thrown in the trash. They will just end up in a landfill somewhere creating methane emissions that are harmful to the environment. Try composting them! Here’s some help to get you started from our friend Joe Lamp’l at Growing a Greener World TV.

Helpful tip: Keep a small compost bin in your freezer. While you’re cooking, toss the scraps in the freezer bin and there will be no smell and you won’t have to battle fruit flies. When you’re little bin is full, then you can take it outside and dump it in your compost pile. 

3. Think about food waste in real dollars.

Every time you throw a rotten tomato in the trash, remind yourself that you have just thrown away one dollar! If you like to get the big, juicy, organic heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market, add another dollar or two to that! This even works for the leftover pizza from last night’s dinner. That thing probably cost you 20 dollars and if you throw half of it away the dollars start adding up! This bring us to the next item:

4. Be creative with your food.

Okay, cold pizza for breakfast is no longer considered “creative”, but it’s pretty darn good if you ask me. If you have leftovers, don’t throw them away because you just don’t feel like eating that again. Make it a challenge! Make salads and sandwiches from your leftovers. Add that ratatouille to a pot of soup or bowl of pasta. Put the meatloaf on a sandwich. Turn your stale bread into croutons.   Or if you don’t have a creative bone in your body (I don’t believe you), freeze your leftovers and reheat them whenever you feel like it. The most dangerous place for a box of leftovers is in the back of a fridge. You’re going to forget about it, it’s going to go bad, it’s going to stink up your fridge, and in the end, you’re going to have to face it anyway….probably with a nose plug.

Helpful tip: If you’re the adventurous type, use the mobile app Leftoverswap to share your leftovers with people near by.

5. Just share it.

Many gardeners grow more food than they can eat and it usually ends up in the compost pile or rotting on the vine. If you have fresh food from your garden or from the store that you aren’t going to eat, you can donate it to a local food pantry. Most people think that you can only donate non-perishable food items, but every one of the almost 7,000 food pantries registered at AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry is ready and able to accept fresh food donations too. Fresh food must be uncut and of a quality that you yourself would eat. This is perfect if you have a CSA (community supported agriculture) share that may have certain foods you don’t like, or can’t eat. See our previous post about that here.

Helpful tip: Use the AmpleHarvest.org mobile app so you can see what your local pantry might need in addition to your fresh food donations. Download here for: iphone or android

 

Food Pantry Friday – Cities and Towns of Newly Registered Pantries

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It’s Food Pantry Friday! Every day, food pantries from all across the U.S. register on AmpleHarvest.org.  This week we are welcoming newly registered food pantries in 12 different states! They are eager to accept and distribute the abundance from your garden to help those in need (especially this time of year when pantry levels are typically low). Want to help – find a food pantry here:  www.AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry

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Food pantries joining the AmpleHarvest.org network are from the following cities and towns: Northglenn, CO / St. Helens, OR / Boise, ID / Eighty Four, PA / Charlotte, NC / Ridgetop, TN / Las Vegas, NV / Gaithersburg, MD / New Orleans, LA / Wisconsin Rapids, WI / Waldorf, MD / Lake Charles, LA / Yanceyville, NC / Leominster, MA / Jacobson, MN / Crosslake, MN / Brainerd, MN / International Falls, MN and Golden Valley, MN

Food pantries interested in registering with AmpleHarvest.org, can do so for free here: www.AmpleHarvest.org/register

Keeping Community in your CSA with AmpleHarvest.org

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Have a CSA membership? – Remember, the “C” stands for Community!

Leanne Mazurick, Food Pantry Outreach Coordinator at AmpleHarvest.org

Leanne Mazurick, Food Pantry Outreach Coordinator at AmpleHarvest.org

In my neck of the woods, these are the first few weeks of the 2014 CSA season! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a farming model where people buy “shares” or “memberships” directly from the farm and in return, they receive seasonal vegetables each week throughout the growing season. CSA’s offer folks a way to purchase fresh, local and typically organic produce, directly from the farmer. By purchasing a share they are willing to stand behind and support the farmer through the rewards and challenges of the growing season. (To learn more about CSA’s click here.

The year before I joined the AmpleHarvest.org team, I worked for a CSA in northeastern PA. I made the CSA deliveries each week to the members who were eager to receive fresh, seasonal produce. What I learned from that experience is that people have their favorites – one family might love kale and another might never really catch on to what to do with it. I started to know which people were going to be thrilled with what was in their weekly shares and which ones would be ready to throw in the towel or sob if they got another kohlrabi! Some CSA’s offer a swap box where you can exchange something you know you’ll never eat for another item, but some do not. So if the family doesn’tScreen shot 2014-06-20 at 12.22.30 PM share this unwanted produce with another family member or neighbor, my guess is that it goes to waste – either forgotten about in the fridge only to meet its demise in the compost bin or worse, the garbage.

And once the growing season is in full swing, it can become difficult to keep up with cleaning, chopping, cooking or freezing all the vegetables in your share. So here’s where we are asking you to remember to keep “community” in your CSA share. When you find yourself overwhelmed with more fruits or vegetables than you can use, share, freeze or put up for the winter, please consider finding a food pantry near you where you can donate your extra produce. Click here to find one near you: www.AmpleHarvest.org/findpantry

When you share your abundance, you’ll be reducing food waste and helping another family in your city or town have access to fresh produce. If you are a part of a CSA, please distribute this information to the farm you belong to and to other CSA’s in your community so they can let their members know about AmpleHarvest.org. By sharing this information and your extra produce, you can help feed a hungry family and keep “community” in your CSA share!

 

 

Food Pantry Friday

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It’s Food Pantry Friday! Throughout the month we’ve been focusing on food waste and today we’re featuring Waste Not Want Not – an organization that has been registered with AmpleHarvest.org for 4 years. Last year, they distributed close to two million pounds of food, putting it where it belongs – on plates, not in landfills.

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From their Executive Director, Sandra L. Staudt-Killea: “Imagine for a moment that for the next two weeks every vegetable and fruit you eat will come out of a can.  Unfortunately, most people who rely on food assistance don’t have to imagine this; they live it.  Now picture how delighted you would be when you next enjoyed a freshly-picked ear of corn or piece of fruit.  That is the kind of impact that AmpleHarvest.org allows growers to have on their neighbors and why Waste Not Want Not was excited to learn of AmpleHarvest.org’s focus on preventing home-grown produce from going to waste.”

Please check out their video and the amazing work they are doing in Orange Park, FL.

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Registered pantries interested in being featured in a Food Pantry Friday post should email: Leanne@AmpleHarvest.org