Use Your Garden Harvest to Help the Hungry

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Are you like many families and now grow your own vegetables? Have you planted a fruit tree? If so, you probably know that it is pretty easy to end up with more tomatoes, squash, apples and plums than you, your family and neighbors can eat.

If you have got more to harvest than you know what to do with, Ample Harvest, a national nonprofit, suggests you donate your extra fresh produce to local food pantries.

Hunger is greater than it has been in nearly 15 years, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with 49 million people skipping meals, cutting portions or otherwise eating less than they need. That amounts to a 16 percent increase from 2007.

Food pantries particularly treasure fresh fruit and vegetables, since it is donated far less often than canned, packaged and boxed foods. Plus, giving to your local food pantry is also a great way to teach your kids about helping the needy, in addition to helping them learn where fruit and veggies really come from (dirt?!).

Here are a few suggestions for donating your garden bounty to a local food pantry:

1. Find a local pantry and call first to make sure they accept fresh produce. Some may not have the space or refrigeration necessary to keep fruit and veggies fresh.

2. Only donate produce that is fresh – as fresh as you would serve your own family.

3. Deliver your produce the same day you pick it.

Learn more about ways to give your garden harvest to food pantries and to locate a food pantry near you at http://www.ampleharvest.org or http://www.feedingamerica.org.

If you cannot find a pantry near you, call a local house of worship. Many religious organizations host food pantries but do not have a website or telephone.