Commerce in the Community: AmpleHarvest.org increases access to healthy foods through innovation, technology and local partnerships
Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.
Below is an interview with Gary Oppenheimer, the Executive Director and Founder of AmpleHarvest.org. As director of a community garden in 2009, Gary learned about the wasted food in many plots and created a program called "Ample Harvest" to get the excess food to local food pantries. Realizing this as a nationwide problem, he created AmpleHarvest.org to use the Internet educate, encourage and enable millions of growers nationwide to share their ample harvest with local food pantries in all 50 states.
Question 1: Tell us about AmpleHarvest.org. What is your mission and main focus?
While more than 50 million Americans live in food insecure homes (including a quarter of all children under the age of six), more than 42 million Americans grow fruit, vegetables, herbs and nuts in home gardens - often more than they can use, preserve or give to friends. It doesn't have to be that way. Struggling to feed their families, many Americans - both those chronically economically challenged as well as those now impacted by the economic downturn - have come to rely on the more than 33,500 food pantries (also called food shelves, food closets, food cupboards or food banks in some areas) across America to help feed their families. These food pantries, relying on donated and purchased foods, almost never have fresh produce and instead rely on canned or processed produce shipped from across the country at significant cost, both economic and environmental. At the same time, millions of home and community gardeners nationwide with an abundant harvest do not know that they can share their harvest, do not know how to share their harvest and do not know where to share their harvest. AmpleHarvest.org solves that for them. AmpleHarvest.org envisions an America where millions of gardeners eliminate malnutrition and hunger in their own community. To accomplish this, AmpleHarvest.org, moving information instead of food to diminish hunger and malnutrition in America, is educating, encouraging and empowering growers to share their excess harvest with the needy in their community instead of letting it rot in the garden. Our "No Food Left Behind" goal is a healthier and, by extension, wealthier America.