Help Your Garden Help Others: Donate Excess Produce Locally, with

Backyard gardeners can help change this shocking number – click image for a running tab of the pounds of food wasted in the U.S. since the beginning of 2014.

How is it that one of out of every six Americans experience food insecurity when there is more than an adequate supply of food potentially available? A broken food system is big part of this issue and one of the many reasons I started the Intervale Center 30 years ago (more on that below.) 

According to both the National Resource Defense Council and the US Department of Agriculture, we throw away a pound of food per person per day in this country, or well over 100 billion pounds of food per year. Some estimate this to be more than enough to totally eliminate hunger in America. You can view a thought provoking image that gives a running tab on the 40% of food wasted since the beginning of 2014.  

Not included in these statistics is the volume of home-grown produce discarded by us, the more than 40 million gardeners across the U.S. Why do we it? Sometimes our plants produce far more fruits and vegetables than we could possibly use, preserve or give away. It is not uncommon for tomato plants to bear 20 to 40 or more fruit each, more than we can use. Many other crops, such as peppers, cucumbers, squash, citrus, apples and peaches, also produce abundant harvest.

And our neighbors and friends can only use so much. Until recently, it's been difficult to find food shelves that would accept fresh harvests due to space and refrigeration issues. But now, thanks to Gary Oppenheimer of, you can harvest your excess and get it into the hands of hungry children and adults who need it. 

The web site is free and easy to use. Enter your address or zip code, and generates a list of registered food pantries in your community. You’ll get an address and phone number, and often directions and additional information about what produce is most beneficial or when it can be accepted.

In just five years, has connected more than 40,000 backyard gardeners to their local food pantries. As a result, more than 21 million pounds of excess produce have been diverted from the compost pile—an amount of food that would fill 76 Olympic-size swimming pools!

I hope you’ll take a moment to visit and learn instantly how you can donate your excess garden produce to the nearest food pantry. And please share this link on your social media and gardening friends.

As mentioned above, the Intervale Center, is now a national model for creating local food systems and also has a gleaning program that provides 5,000 pounds of food to our local Vermont area.

So gather up your produce, visit and put that delicious, fresh food to work eliminating hunger and improving health in your community.





Gary Oppenheimer, founder of, has helped more than 40 million gardeners connect with their local food pantries to donate extra produce.  Currently, 6,930 food pantries across all 50 states are registered to receive a sustainable and recurring supply of freshly harvested,locally grown food (many for the first time) from area growers and gardeners – for free.

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