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Organization working to eliminate food waste

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Posted at 9:06 AM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 14:35:40-04

The Department of Agriculture estimates 130 billion meals get thrown out every year yet there are Americans going hungry.

Ampleharvest.org has been working for years to facilitate food donations so this doesn’t happen. It’s a national nonprofit that connects gardeners and hungry families to food pantries.

This gardening season, they’re teaming up with Bonnie Plants and Home Depot, which are selling an easy-to-grow line of produce as a way to encourage more fresh-food donations.

“The idea is that when a gardener has woke up one morning and has too much of whatever they have grown that they can come to Ampleharvest.org to find a food pantry in their own neighborhood that is eager to receive it,” said Gary Oppenheimer, founder of Ampleharvest.org. “And then they donate it and they can do that this year and then for the rest of their gardening life.”

Ampleharvest.org works with pantries in more than 4,000 communities in all 50 states. It allows pantries to create time slots for gardeners to drop off produce. That ensures the food stays fresh, but also serves another purpose.

“Particularly today in today's economy where my neighbor may have lost their job, lost their business, whatever, and they're going to a food pantry for a while that I could be showing up with a box of whatever wonderful stuff I grew and they're coming to get their bread and milk and whatever and fresh food and we’re there at the same time, I'm embarrassed,” Oppenheimer said. “They’re humiliated. That's not necessary.”

He says access to healthy food has also been proven to reduce health care costs.

Research published in “PLoS Medicine” estimates that $50 billion could be saved annually if Americans ages 35 to 85 ate a healthy diet. That’s because it reduced the risk for things like type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

This season Ampleharvest.org is connecting gardeners under #DonateYourHarvest.