2+2 = More than You can Imagine

What if 2+2 did not equal 4? What if it was possible for 2+2 to be so much more?  In this week before Thanksgiving, a celebration of gratitude,  I was thinking about way too many people who go hungry, especially children, and way too much waste that ends up in the landfill, especially food, especially when people go hungry.  It can be overwhelming to think about how one person could make a dent in these challenges. However, individuals, plus organizations, plus businesses, plus creative thinking united together can add up to a big impact, more than you can imagine. 

Let me share an example of a multifaceted approach:  Second Harvest, a local Minnesota U.S. non-profit, has provided great solutions to assist with ending hunger and food waste.  One of their programs has been to team up with the Minneapolis Farmers Market.

Cool weather vegetables
Cool weather vegetables, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts

This Fresh Food program collects produce from vendors and shoppers at the market during the growing season.  In just the first season, this effort has provided over 50 tons of food.  “The collaboration quickly caught the attention of market-goers, growers and the media—all of whom recognize the importance of delivering fresh produce to our neighbors in need.” ~ Second Harvest

DSC_0250peppers600x400
Fresh produce, sweet and hot peppers

A second initiative employed has been to team up with our agriculture community on the Farm to Foodshelf grant funded by the State of Minnesota.  This $2 million appropriation helps agricultural producers and processors offset the cost to harvest and pack for shipping their donated fruits and vegetables. To qualify, produce must be “surplus that would otherwise go unharvested or be discarded.”  Farm produce such as potatoes, sweet corn, onions, carrots, squash and others are welcome.

Farmer's Market Harvest
Farmer’s Market Harvest

Food Rescue is another program that saves food waste by gleaning excess produce at participating apple orchards. Second Harvest also partners with over 275 grocer donors to collect produce, dairy, deli, meat, bakery and grocery items.

Apple harvest
Apple abundance

These donated products are distributed to food shelves, soup kitchens and shelters throughout Second Harvest Heartland’s service area. Over 18 million pounds of nutritious food has been distributed to neighbors in need to over 59 counties.

Each effort adds up to exponentially bigger results. Second Harvest is a member of Feeding America  with 200 food banks.  Connect with a program in your area to reduce waste, provide food, and become a part of a small change that leads to big changes.

FYI: The Splendid Table , hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper on public radio, is partnering with Feeding America to provide hunger relief. You can give in any amount; for every $1 you donate to support the show through Dec. 31st, you’ll provide one meal at the network of food banks.

Environmental Tip:  “Feed People, Not Landfills – An estimated 50 million Americans do not have access to enough food. Organizations can donate safe and healthy food to a food bank or food rescue organization and both reduce food sent to landfills and feed those in need.” ~ Environmental Protection Agency

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