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.
Food Pantry Questions
Q. Are there any costs associated with registering on AmpleHarvest.org?
A. Nope. None. Nada. Zippo. AmpleHarvest.org is totally free both for your food pantry (also called a food cupboard, food shelf, food closet or food bank in some parts of the country) as well as the gardeners using AmpleHarvest.org to find your food pantry.
Q. What type of agency can register at AmpleHarvest.org?
A. The AmpleHarvest.org Campaign is designed to make food pantries "visible" to neighborhood gardeners eager to share their excess harvest.
Other agencies such as soup kitchens and shelters may also take advantage of AmpleHarvest.org although our model was explicitly designed to meet the exact needs of food pantries.
The three requirements to register on AmpleHarvest.org are the agency must be:
Individuals, ad-hoc groups and for-profit organizations may not register on AmpleHarvest.org. If in doubt, please send an email to info@AmpleHarvest.org
Q. Is the AmpleHarvest.org campaign different from Plant-A-Row for the Hungry?
A. Yes. Both programs work very hard to get fresh garden produce to the food insecure. AmpleHarvest.org is focused on getting fresh produce from millions of gardeners across all 50 states to local food pantries and PAR is available in those communities where they are set up to operate. AmpleHarvest.org offers gardeners nationwide online real-time information about their neighborhood pantries. Additionally, AmpleHarvest.org also offers gardeners and non-gardeners alike, the opportunity to see what store bought items the food pantries in their community are most in need of. A food agency can easily participate in both programs.
Q. Our pantry has no refrigeration for storing produce, what do we do?
A. Because many pantries have limited refrigeration capacity with little or no room for bulky produce such as lettuce or melons, they usually provide only canned fruits and vegetables.
AmpleHarvest.org solves this problem.
On the Register a Pantry page, you are encouraged to put the day[s] of the week and the time of day that gardeners should deliver their produce to you. You can then invite your clients to come later that same day to get the garden fresh produce. The produce should be in and out of your pantry within 1 to 2 days at most. Any produce harvested from a backyard garden can survive quite well without refrigeration for a day or so.
Q. How does our pantry register on AmpleHarvest.org?
A. Go to the Register A Food Pantry page and fill in the information in the shaded part of the page.
This video gives you a quick overview of registering your food pantry at AmpleHarvest.org.
Here are some helpful hints about registering:
Q. Our pantry just registered on AmpleHarvest.org. What should we do next?
A. There are several steps you can take:
Q. When might we start getting some garden produce for our clients?
A. According to the National Gardening Association, more than 40 million American households grew fruit, vegetables and herbs and nuts in 2009.
However, how much produce may be donated and when will vary greatly based on what part of the country you are in, the time of the year, what type of growing season your region experienced, and how the backyard gardeners in the area prefer to plant their gardens.
Some backyard gardeners grow a single crop for the year. They may plant only tomatoes for example, and if that is the case, you'll start seeing them come in the mid to late summer as the harvest continues. Others plant three separate crops; a spring cool weather crop (lettuce, broccoli, peas, beans, etc) that will be ready for harvest around June, a warmer weather crop (tomatoes, peppers, berries, etc) that will be harvested in the late summer, and a fall cool weather crop (winter squash, carrots, potatoes, etc) that may come in the late Fall. It all depends upon what the gardener decided to grow.
Your staff and your clients can help influence the gardeners in your community to share their produce with a local food pantry. Pleae visit the Informing the Gardener page to learn more.
Q. Do we need to pick up the food or is it delivered?
A. That is up to you and the donor. Our experience has been that in the vast number of cases, growers are happy to drive the food to your food pantry.
If you have access to a car or van and are willing to transport the food, you can then get food from a grower who does not drive or has no access to public transportation. Either they will arrange to get the food to you or they may need to share it with another food pantry in the community.
Q. How much produce should we expect to receive for our clients?
A. That again will vary greatly based on what type of growing season your region experienced and how many backyard gardeners are in the area.
A growing season with terrible weather (too much or too little rain, late or early frosts, etc) or pest problems may result in a smaller than desired crop leaving the backyard gardeners with enough for their own needs and not enough to share.
Another item influencing the amount that you will see is the nature of the surrounding area. A food pantry in a large metropolitan area may not have the benefit of many backyard gardeners in the immediate vicinity, so they may see a smaller benefit. Pantries in suburban or rural areas however should see a significantly larger volume of deliveries simply because there are more backyard gardeners in the vicinity.
Q. We are in a large city - should we even bother to get listed on AmpleHarvest.org?
A. Absolutely YES.
Nationwide, we are seeing a resurgence of gardening in cities--abandoned plots, community gardens, roof top gardens, and even "upside-down" tomato growing. Even the White House now has its own vegetable garden! Someone growing in the city can harvest as much as their rural counterparts. All they need is good soil, sun, rain and like every other gardener, some luck.
Q. Should we report the produce donated by local gardeners?
A. Some food banks have expressed an interest in receiving this information so you should contact yours to see if this information would be helpful to them.
Gardeners are welcome to send an email to IShared@AmpleHarvest.org when they share their bounty. AmpleHarvest.org itself does no tracking of gardeners seeking food pantries nor the amount of produce donated.
Q. We operate a "soup kitchen". Can we participate in the AmpleHarvest.org Campaign?
A. AmpleHarvest.org is designed to help millions of gardeners find food pantries and donate their excess crops to them. Soup kitchens and shelters operate differently from pantries in that they require all of the needed ingredients for a meal to be on-hand for every meal. Since local gardeners donate their produce when they harvest and only if/when they want to, you can't be assured of a steady supply of produce from the gardeners.
If you can operate with the unpredictability of the gardener's donations, then yes... you may register at AmpleHarvest.org. If however, you need to be assured of a steady supply of produce, you should instead rely on other sources.
Q. Can AmpleHarvest.org help us get donations of store bought items?
You can use the Additional Information: field on your listing to let the public know what store bought items you are in particular need of, such as pasta, cereal, toothpaste, etc.
The AmpleHarvest.org iPhone and Android apps were designed to help shoppers find a food pantry when they encounter a special sale in the store. Make sure that you list those store bought items you most urgently need in the "Additional Information" section of your pantries listing. Update it as often as necessary by selecting Register/Update A Pantry, and then entering your username and password in the "Existing Pantries Log In Here" section on the left side of the screen.
Q. How can our food bank get member agencies to sign up on AmpleHarvest.org?
A.AmpleHarvest.org works with nearly every food bank in America as well as with Feeding America itself. Because the food banks have direct access to their member agencies, we count on the food banks to help agencies learn about AmpleHarvest.org and encourage them to register themselves. This is good for the food bank because it help the agencies get access to freshly harvested and locally grown food and because it enables local food drives to get the collected food directly to the agency without bogging down the food bank with the task of sorting and distributing food donated by individuals - thereby cutting the operating costs for the food bank.
Several resources are available for food banks to share with their agencies:
While we strongly encourage individual agencies to register themselves at AmpleHarvest.org, some food banks have asked to "bulk load" their agencies. If your food bank wants to take that approach, please populate the bulk load spreadsheet and follow the enclosed instructions.
Lastly, if your food bank is hosting a conference or meeting for all of your agencies and you are looking for a keynote speaker, please email info@AmpleHarvest.org with the date and location - someone will get back to you within a few hours.