One in six Utah households struggle to afford the food they need. This growing season, Utah’s gardeners can help fight hunger by growing an extra row of produce in their gardens and donating their harvest to hunger relief organizations through Grow-a-Row Share-the-Harvest, an initiative that Utahns Against Hunger has promoted for over twenty years.
“With Grow-a-Row, Share-the-Harvest, we encourage local gardeners to grow extra fruits and vegetables and donate them to their neighborhood food pantry,” said Liz Elmore of Utahns Against Hunger. “At the height of the growing season when your garden is producing more food than you can eat, you can donate the excess to those with limited access to fresh produce. This is a real, tangible way to fight hunger in our community.”
Backyard and community gardeners are participating as well as youth interested in making a difference. “Grow a Row is a low impact effort that makes a real difference in our community,” explains Pam Juliano, a gardener in Millcreek. “Listen, we all know one zucchini plant feeds a family, two feeds a village. The same can be said for potatoes and tomatoes and if you have fruit trees, dedicate one to Grow a Row. Sunshine and fresh air are the reward of a job well done, the bonus is knowing that your efforts will bring about a lot of smiles to those with limited or no access to fresh produce."
Lydia Herrera, manager at Hildegarde’s Food Pantry of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Salt Lake City, welcomes more fresh produce for pantry clients. Families often have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables because of the lack of affordable produce in low-income neighborhoods. According to a 2010 study by PolicyLink and The Food Trust, low-income zip codes have 25 percent fewer chain supermarkets and 1.3 times as many convenience stores compared to middle-income zip codes. For food-insecure families, being able to take home fresh fruits and vegetables from a food pantry can provide essential nutrition they may not get otherwise.
If you would like to donate produce from your garden to a local food pantry, visit the Grow-a-Row Share-the-Harvest page on Utahns Against Hunger’s website at www.uah.org/projects-initiatives/grow-a-row/. Here you can register your Grow-a-Row project and find a pantry near you that accepts produce donations.