Food For Thought An estimated 100 billion pounds of food, enough to totally eliminate hunger, is thrown away annually in the United States. It does not have to be this way - and you can help. Your support of the AmpleHarvest.org Campaign helps many more food pantries receive fresh produce - improving community health while also helping the environment.
Backyard Gardener Questions
Q. What do I do if AmpleHarvest.org does not list any food pantries in my neighborhood?
A. Your help can be critical here.
Food pantries are often "under the radar"--they do not have a web site, signs on the front door, or yellow page listing. That is why we created AmpleHarvest.org, to make it possible to find a pantry in your neighborhood.
If we do not list a pantry in your area, please help us find one. How? See if a place of worship or other civic organization in your community has one. Call your regional food bank (www.feedingamerica.org can help you find it) and ask them if they can help you.
Once you do find one, contact them to see if they'll accept your produce. ALSO, please ask them to visit www.AmpleHarvest.org or print out www.AmpleHarvest.org/downloads/pantry.pdf and give it to them. You can also ask them to contact the other nearby food pantries to let them know about AmpleHarvest.org. If they are not Internet savvy, you may want to help them register on AmpleHarvest.org.
Once they are registered, the next backyard gardener in your area looking to share their bounty will not experience the problems you did.
Q. I love the idea of sharing my produce, what do I do once I have found a pantry?
A. First and foremost, see if a preferred delivery day of the week and time of day is listed. It is important to adhere to the pantries scheduling information if they provide it so as not interfere with their operations. If no day/time is listed, call or email them to find out when they would like you to deliver the produce.
On the day of your planned delivery, harvest your crops in the early morning while they still have some of the coolness of the evening air. If they have dew, wipe them dry with a paper towel. Each item should be visually inspected for serious bruising, insect damage, and ripeness. Do not donate produce that you would not buy for your own family. Produce that is overripe, has mushy spots, or is seriously blemished should either be made into a soup, stew, or go into a compost pile but not donated. (Note, if you used any pesticide on your garden, please take the time to clean each piece of produce as recommended by the pesticide manufacturer on the label before you let anyone eat it.)
Next, unless they have given you other instructions, package your produce in paper supermarket bags and take them to the pantry at the requested time. If you find the pantry convenient to get to, you can continue to share your produce with them through the rest of the growing season. Alternatively, you may decide to go back to AmpleHarvest.org next time and select a different pantry - spreading your produce over several pantries.
Whichever way you choose to do it, it will be greatly appreciated. Lastly, please remember to let your fellow gardeners know about AmpleHarvest.org, so they can share the bounty of their garden at their harvest time.
Q. I have a lot of tomatoes but only a few of cucumbers, should I bother to bring them?
A. Yes! The produce you bring will be pooled with that of other backyard gardeners in your area. For all you know, the next gardener might bring only 3 tomatoes and two bags of cucumbers.
Remember, the key thing is that food should not be wasted, especially when so many Americans are having a hard time feeding their families.
Your bounty, large or small, will help to diminish hunger in America.
Q. Are my donations tax deductible?
A. We are not tax experts, but our tax experts believe that donations may be tax deductible provided you can determine the fair market value of your donation. We spoke to our tax experts... but you'll need to talk to yours to get an answer that will be applicable to your situation.
Q. Do the pantries care if I grow organically?
A. Most do not - they are perfectly happy with fresh produce, organic or not. HOWEVER, you may want to let the pantry know if you use organic methods in case one of their clients prefers it. Having said that, if you do grow organically, you will harvest healthier food without depleting the earth as much.
Please click here for a number of recommended links to help you grow a healthy garden.
Q. Growing season is over... can I still donate to a food pantry?
A. Pantries need your help all year long. Visit AmpleHarvest.org to see if your local pantry has listed any store bought items that they are in particular need of. Any donations will help.
Q. Would you like to know if I shared my garden bounty?
A. We'd love to know about it. Send an email to IShared@AmpleHarvest.org and let us know how much produce you were able to share. You might also want to visit our Facebook page and post the information there too.
There is no need to identify yourself if you don't want to, simply sign it with your initials and your city and state.
Q. I know about a food pantry that is not on AmpleHarvest.org, what should I do?
A. Just because you know about the pantry does not mean that other backyard gardeners in your area also know about it.
Please make every effort to inform the pantry about AmpleHarvest.org. The key to success of the campaign is to have as many food pantries as possible listed on the site.
The best thing to do is either to visit the pantry and suggest that they go to www.AmpleHarvest.org to list their pantry, or if they do not have Internet access, print out the pantry flier in the green box on the left and give it to them. They may need your help to actually do the registration. Please remind them that there is absolutely no cost or obligations involved with listing on AmpleHarvest.org.
Q. What happens if someone becomes ill after eating something I donated?
A. You are protected by the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act signed during the Clinton administration. The Act is intended to encourage donations of food to nonprofit organizations while providing the donor with "Good Samaritan" protection. You are provided protection from criminal and civil liability providing you did not exhibit gross negligence. The text of the act is at http://www.usda.gov/news/pubs/gleaning/appc.htm