Unstable access to food should not be blamed on a lack of resources, but rather the lack of their distribution.
Every day, over 50 million Americans live with food insecurity, relying on food pantries as their main supplier of nutrition. Sustained largely by donations of canned and packaged goods, food pantries (also known as “food cupboards” or “food shelves”) are rarely able to offer visitors fresh produce.
In addition, the food banks that supply the pantries have less frequent delivery dates than a grocery store would, making a constant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables impossible.
Meanwhile, over 40 million home gardeners producing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts find themselves with more crops than they need. So why not let the two merge to create a relationship that is purely beneficial?
Gary Oppenheimer just may have, with the creation of AmpleHarvest.org, as a means to fight off hunger and help the environment by reducing the waste of resources. AmpleHarvest.org is a free, nationwide organization that enables home gardeners to connect with local food pantries.
This is done as gardeners, who find themselves with larger harvests than expected, use an interactive map on AmpleHarvest’s website to find nearby food pantries in need, or want, of their produce. You can also find participating pantries using their free iPhone and Android apps.
The organization has had a noticeable impact, to say the least, since its inception in 2009. After only 15 months, over 3 million pounds of fresh, locally harvested food had been donated to the registered pantries.
Even first lady, Michelle Obama, has teamed up with AmpleHarvest.org through her Let’s Move! initiative, which promotes a healthier lifestyle through exercise and diet. This makes for a suitable match as AmpleHarvest.org enables people with lower incomes the means to meet the initiative’s goals.
Over 5,773 pantries have joined so far, but there is still much room for growth, so spread the word, or register if you work at a pantry, to help end malnutrition and resource waste across the country.
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