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Grantee Spotlight: AmpleHarvest.org

For the first time this year, Hazon is excited to offer a grant from the proceeds of the New York Ride to AmpleHarvest.org, an incredible organization whose work fits very well with the theme of this year’s weekend retreat: “Food Choices: Why what we eat matters.”

In 2008, Gary Oppenheimer  became the director of a community garden in his hometown of West Milford, New Jersey, and quickly realized that many of the plot holders were growing more food than they could possibly eat, save, or give to friends, and so were leaving a lot of their produce unharvested.  He formed a committee to gather the extra produce and deliver it to local food pantries, and was struck by how difficult it was to find food pantries, as many were unlisted, and did not have websites.  Gary knew that nationally, more than 50 million Americans live in food-insecure homes, and more than 40 million Americans grow their own produce, oftentimes more than they can actually use.  In 2009, Gary started AmpleHarvest.org to be the link between these two groups – encouraging home gardeners to donate their excess produce to people in need in their communities, and connecting them to local food pantries.

Today, AmpleHarvest.org has registered over 4,000 food pantries around the country, allowing gardeners in their communities to find them, and bring in extra fresh produce.  Thanks to AmpleHarvest.org, many food pantries across the country are now able to provide their clients with fresh, local produce for the first time.  Most pantries rely on donations, which almost always come in the form of processed, canned foods, which are much less healthy and have a greater environmental impact than locally grown produce.  AmpleHarvest.org is making a huge difference, and people are noticing.

AmpleHarvest.org was named finalist in a national awards competition (the “CLASSY Awards”) as one of America’s top charities in the “most effective awareness raising work” category.

Right now, they’re #11 and urgently need people’s votes to boost us up prior to August 25, 2011.

Vote Now!

Gary has been recognized as a CNN Hero and a Huffington Post Greatest Person of the Day, and just this week, AmpleHarvest.org was featured in an article on the White House blog for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, and Jamie Oliver posted an article by Gary Oppenheimer on his Food Revolution blog.

AmpleHarvest.org is doing really great work, and we are excited not only to be able to support the organization, but also to give New York Ride participants the opportunity to learn from Gary Oppenheimer.  During the weekend retreat, Gary will join Ruth Messinger and Karin Fleisch in a discussion on the topic of Creating a Fair Food Future, which is sure to be informative and inspiring.

UPDATE 9/19/11: Visit AmpleHarvest.org/hazon created especially with Hazonniks in mind. There are resources and ways to take action in your community.

You can help us support AmpleHarvest.org by registering for the New York Ride and Retreat, or by making a donation.  If you happen to grow your own produce, check out AmpleHarvest.org to get connected to a local food pantry, and donate what you can’t use to your neighbors in need.