Sunday, February 15, 2009

Plant a Garden; Save the World – At Least It’s a Start

Aside from the simple pleasure and sense of satisfaction that comes from growing your own food, gardeners can also lend a hand to their neighbors by growing vegetables.

According to a 2002 federal Department of Agriculture Report, 10% of Americans experienced hunger – even before the recent recession. Children’s Hunger Alliance reports that 495,000 Ohio children are hungry or experience food insecurity every day. CHA also reported that more than 1.1 million Ohioans are on food stamps. Last year, the food pantries of Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio served more than 148,000 people. That number is expected to grow significantly in 2009. Indeed, it was only fourteen months ago that food banks across Ohio were so overwhelmed that thousands of families had to be turned away because there just wasn’t enough food to go around.

As depressing as this is, none of us alone can solve this problem. However, we can contribute to a solution. In addition to non-perishable food, the LSS food pantries and the Mid-Ohio Food Bank also accept garden produce grow by regular people -- like you and me – in our backyard gardens.

According to the Plant a Row Foundation, “in 2005, more than 1.5 million pounds of produce were donated generating meals for over 5.5 million needy recipients. All this has been achieved without government subsidy or bureaucratic red tape — just people helping people. PAR’s goal for its 10th anniversary in 2004 was to make more than 8 million pounds of produce available to food banks, soup kitchens and service organizations. The total produce donations through 2005 reached nearly 10 million pounds of produce to help those in need in communities throughout the U.S. and Canada.”

“PAR’s success hinges on its people-helping-people approach. The concept is simple. There are over 70 million gardeners in the U.S. alone, many of which plant vegetables and harvest more than they can consume. If every gardener plants one extra row of vegetables and donates their surplus to local food banks and soup kitchens, a significant impact can be made on reducing hunger. Food agencies will have access to fresh produce, funds earmarked for produce can be redirected to other needed items and the hungry of America will have more and better food than is presently available.”

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