Share the Harvest: Your Farmers Market Can Help End Hunger
Posted On: July 13, 2010
by Max Finberg, Director of the USDA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Farmers market managers can help feed hungry children and families this summer. The President and First Lady are calling on Americans to participate in the nation’s recovery and renewal by volunteering in their communities through the United We Serve initiative. This national call to service began last year to help meet growing social needs resulting from the economic downturn.
One of the goals this summer is to increase access to healthy, affordable food for children and families. Market managers can join in this effort by setting up a gleaning program at their farmers market. Each year, well over 100 billion pounds of food are thrown away in this country. At the same time, there are 49 million people, including more than 16 million children, who are at risk of going hungry. Gleaning – the practice of collecting and donating excess produce- helps simultaneously address these pressing issues. It also gives low-income individuals access to fresh and locally grown foods which are not always available in their communities.
To learn more about how to set up a gleaning program at your market and connect to a local food bank or pantry, markets can visit http://www.serve.gov/healthyfoods.asp. Many farmers markets, of course, could not operate without the consistent commitment of passionate volunteers. Managers can also use www.serve.gov to find volunteers to help with a gleaning program. Hundreds of thousands of prospective volunteers use this website each summer to connect to volunteer opportunities in their communities. Any market manager can create a simple post on the site and find additional volunteers to fill a wide variety of needs at their market.
According to a 2006 Farmers Market Survey, 23.9% of all markets across the country are already involved in gleaning. Markets that do not currently have a gleaning program are encouraged to start one this summer. Gleaning resources are available at www.serve.gov/healthyfoods.asp, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is also available to provide advice. Please call (202) 720-2032 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and help ensure that children and families have access to healthy, local food in your community.