As the snow melts and the weather warms, the people at Cache Community Food Pantry want to remind gardeners to plant and grow a row for the food pantry.
“I’m starting to get my posters ready to put out,” Matt Whitaker, the pantry’s administrator, said. “We are trying to get an early start this year.”
It’s been a 30 year tradition for the Logan charity to ask farmers and backyard growers to plant an extra row and bring it to the food pantry. The extra harvest helps local citizens on a fixed income and having a tough time, providing fresh, local produce.
The Cache Community Food Pantry is an emergency food assistance program with a goal that no one in Cache Valley goes to bed hungry.
With the fertile soil and numerous gardeners of Cache Valley, that one extra row can do a lot to help families that struggle with tight food budgets. For some elderly people with fixed incomes, it’s not always easy to access nutritious, fresh produce.
Plant a Row for the Hungry was not just a Cache Community Food Pantry idea, it came from former Garden Writers Association of America President Jeff Lowenfels. He wrote a column in 1995 encouraging gardeners to add an extra row of vegetables to benefit local hunger-relief programs.
The success of the program in Cache Valley depends in large part on community involvement. Not only can home gardeners and farmers have an impact, but schools, youth and community organizations can make a big difference by donating to community food banks. Franklin County also has a food bank and accepts home-grown produce.
The National Writers Organization recently reported that since 1995, over 20 million pounds of produce have been donated. All of this has been achieved without government subsidy or bureaucratic red tape – just people helping people.
U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated one in eight households, or 40 million Americans, lack consistent access to enough food. Of the 40 million people experiencing hunger, 12 million are children.
“We are working with about 180 families that come in every week, but there are other needs. Senior centers, Bear River Mental Health, CAPSA, Common Ground and others,” Whitaker said. “There are about 25 other non-profits, and that doesn’t include the high school pantries. We supply food to all of them.”
Homegrown produce, when given to the food pantry, can help the unemployed, single-parent families, persons affected by economy or population growth, disabled people, those with fixed incomes, large working families and individuals in transition.