If you’re like many gardeners, you may find yourself swimming in excess tomatoes, squashes, peppers, green beans and other garden-grown goodness right now. You can certainly preserve those fresh foods for winter months, or give extras to neighbors and friends. But it’s easier than ever to donate that garden surplus to someone in need, right in your community.

AmpleHarvest.org is a nationwide non-profit, which has been fighting hunger (and food waste) since 2009 by enabling millions of home gardeners and growers to donate excess garden produce to a food pantry for the first time.

food harvests from gardeners can go to food pantries
Garden harvest photo by Toni Fish.

Today, it is working with nearly 8,000 food pantries in all 50 states.  Food pantries register (for free) so that gardeners can connect with them (also for free) with the ultimate goal of ending food waste and helping more pantry clients get healthier food.

The organization estimates there are more than 42 million home gardeners, who often inadvertently waste a lot of garden produce. Millions are now instead donating to pantries using AmpleHarvest.org.

Food Insecurity – Serious Problem

You might be surprised how many Americans don’t know where their next meal will come from. AmpleHarvest.org estimates more than 50 million people, or one of every six Americans, experiences food insecurity.


To put this in perspective, their website says, “the number of food insecure people in America exceeds the populations of Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia – added together.”

gary oppenheimer
Gary Oppenheimer photo from AmpleHarvest.org

By connecting gardeners with local food pantries, it’s easier for delicious and nutritious fresh foods to be donated, rather than wasted. The program allows those in need to eat fresh foods, rather than canned or boxed foods often found in food pantries  and food banks. This model of locally sourced fresh foods also reduces the carbon footprint of pantries, and prevents excess food from ending up in trash dumps.

But the best benefit may just be the wonderful feeling of seeing your homegrown food feeding others who really appreciate and need it!

Ampleharvest.org is backed by the USDA, Google Inc., the National Gardening Association, the National Council of Churches and many faith and service organizations. Its founder Gary Oppenheimer was named “CNN Hero” on the Larry King Live show for his anti-hunger work.

Learn more:

Award-winning Katie’s Krops has 100 youth-run gardens fighting hunger.

National expert Dr. Janet Poppendieck talks to us about hunger in America.

30 Under 30 winner Fortino Morales III on UC Riverside R’ Garden and fighting food insecurity.

Hunger activist Bill Shore about the No Kid Hungry effort and much more.