Did you know that there’s a national Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day? It’s the ultimate dump and run. Many gardeners are trying to get rid of the massive number of zucchinis growing in their garden this time of year, and every neighbor has had enough. And even though the national holiday was Aug. 8, the fall garden keeps on giving … and giving.
There’s a better way to share your hard-earned produce with your neighbors and help reduce hunger at the same time by making sure it goes to neighbors who need it.
Roughly 33 percent of Coloradans lack reliable access to nutritious food, according to a recent survey by Hunger Free Colorado, and 16 percent of Colorado children are not getting adequate nutrition due to financial constraints. And, up to 40 percent of the food in the U.S. goes to waste. At the same time, one in three U.S. households grows some amount of food at home! We can all contribute toward closing these gaps if we work together and start donating our homegrown produce right in our own communities. If we can save even a portion of that waste, we can help increase healthy, nutritious food to these families.
In the neighborhoods that the Neighborhood Gazette reaches, there is a nonprofit mobile app that allows gardeners to connect with their local food pantry and either have their produce picked up or dropped off to be redistributed to their neighbors in need. Fresh Food Connect was developed in Denver by local nonprofits. With the help of gardeners on the app, thousands of pounds of produce have been collected and redistributed in our area.
It’s easy to use – instead of secretly leaving a bag of green beans on a coworker’s desk, gardeners open up the app and report how much extra produce they have that week. The local provider will have either a drop-off location and time or be willing to pick up the produce from the gardener. The local nonprofits then distribute that lovingly grown produce through trusted community programs.
All the extra pounds of veggies add up! The average weekly donation from one gardener is just a few pounds, but a nonprofit can collect a few hundred pounds each week. That adds up to a lot of fresh, healthy meals for families facing food insecurity.
“Fresh Food Connect helps bridge the gap between food waste and food access,” says Allie Runne, with the local nonprofit provider Groundwork Denver. “By keeping it hyperlocal, food grown in local gardens feeds those within the same ZIP code. That maintains the nutrition of the food being donated and provides fresh food to our neighbors they don’t normally receive from food pantries.”
And for gardeners already thinking about next season: why not grow an extra row, knowing that your bounty can be shared with those who need it the most?
The Fresh Food Connect app is available to download on Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Gardeners can learn more about sharing their homegrown produce at www.freshfoodconnect.org.
Cindy Chang is a resident of Wheat Ridge and the Executive Director of Groundwork Denver. Her husband does all the gardening.