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    Posted February 8, 2012 by
    Newfoundland, New Jersey
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your questions for Michelle Obama

    Freshly harvested garden food at food pantries


    The AmpleHarvest.org Campaign working to support Let’s Move’s goal of healthy eating, educates, encourage and enable home gardeners to donate their excess garden produce to local food pantries where fresh food is rarely available.

    We know that the White House Kitchen garden donates food to nearby pantries.

    What would you say to the millions of homeowners who can help nearby food pantries with their excess garden bounty?

    Background on AmpleHarvest.org

    The Idea
    While more than 50 million Americans live in food insecure homes (including a quarter of all children under the age of six), more than 40 million Americans grow fruit, vegetables herbs and nuts in home gardens - often more than they can use, preserve or give to friends.

    It doesn't have to be that way.

    The Opportunity
    Struggling to feed their families, many Americans, both those chronically economically challenged as well as those now impacted by the economic downturn have come to rely on the more than 33,500 food pantries (also called food shelves, food closets, food cupboards or food banks in some areas) across America to help feed their families.

    These food pantries, relying on donated and purchased foods, almost never have fresh produce and instead rely on canned or processed produce shipped from across the country at significant cost, both economic and environmental.

    At the same time, millions of home and community gardeners nationwide with an abundant harvest do not know that they can share their harvest, do not know how to share their harvest and do not know where to share their harvest. AmpleHarvest.org solves that for them.

    The Vision
    AmpleHarvest.org envisions an America where millions of gardeners eliminate malnutrition and hunger in their own community.

    The Mission
    AmpleHarvest.org diminishes hunger in America by educating, encouraging and enabling gardeners to donate their excess harvest to the needy in their community instead of allowing it to rot in the garden. There are no costs to the food pantries or the gardeners for use of AmpleHarvest.org.

    The Message
    A number of America's problem could be diminished or even solved if everyone valued our resources, especially fresh food, as the treasure it really is. Our message to America is:

    No Food Left Behind

    The Impact
    Currently, 4,796 food pantries across all 50 states are registered to recevie a sustainable and recurring supply of freshly harvested, locally grown food (many for the first time) from area growers - for free!.
    In August 2010 (mid harvest) when AmpleHarvest.org was only 15 months old, a survey of then registered food pantries incdicated that more than 3 million pounds of freshly harvested locally grown produce had been donated to food pantries.
    Millions of pantry clients can feed their family fresh food instead of food packaged with added salt and sugar thereby reducing the likelyhood of diet related illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
    Children, now at greater risk of obesity then ever before, are exposed to fresh produce with many learning for the first time that apples do not normally come pre-sliced in cellophane, peas come in pods and not cans and carrots are normally sweet and crunchy.
    Gardeners across America enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping their neighbors in need by reaching into their backyard instead of their back pocket.
    Families are introduced to new varieties of food they may have had no prior access to.
    The carbon footprint of the pantries is reduced as locally sourced food (without packaging or cans trucked across the country that need to be disposed of) is used.
    The community waste stream is reduced (taxes too!) as excess food is donated instead of being thrown away thereby also reducing methane emissions (a climate change gas with 20 times the impact of CO2) at trash dumps
    All this occurs at no cost to the donor, the community or America.
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