Gardeners to grow food for the hungry

Gardeners will grow a crop every year for themselves and their families. But what about people who have difficulty putting food on the table? The Growing Kindness campaign hopes to get people growing for others, to plant a row to donate to the city’s food bank.

Carrie Olson, founder of the Hunger is Scary Food Drive, said that she was inspired to create the drive as a way to keep talking about food outside of the months when the food drive operates. Hunger is Scary does its main drive during Halloween, and the first year she made a donation, she remembered seeing some squash on the shelves, which she didn’t realize she could find at the food bank.

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“Most people are like me and don’t realize food banks can accept produce. We all know that for a healthy diet we all need fresh fruits and vegetables... So, I thought, what can we do to bring awareness?”

The solution was to get people thinking about what they can do in their own gardens. Inspiration came in the garden.

“We’re gardeners, there are lots of good gardeners in our area. Come fall, there are usually people sharing with their neighbors, with their friends and their family. What I’m asking for is people to extend that grace and share with the Food Bank, and even plant a row for the food bank. Plant a row of some of the heartier, not easily perishable vegetables, like squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, things that keep.”

In rolling out the campaign, Olson has said that many people ask her why people can’t just grow their own garden. She said that for many families, a garden is a luxury they don’t have the space or the money to afford.

“A lot of our families, especially in our city, are in rental properties... They don’t have garden space. Some don’t have access to a vehicle to get to a community garden. Planting a garden takes means to begin with, and when you’re living on a very limited income, that’s hard to do. Some are working, don’t have the time, they might be single parents. It’s really hard for everybody to do.”

Lieutenant Samuel Tim with the Salvation Army Food Bank said that produce is one area where they struggle to get the food to families. People often do not realize they can donate it, and grocery stores are less inclined to give produce because they don’t want to risk it going bad. As a result, the only source that they typically have is local farmers who have excess. Tim wants to see it become a staple like canned goods and bread.

“What little that we have goes very fast, people grab it when they come in because they don’t see it very often.”

The goal of the food bank is to ensure everyone can eat healthy, and Tim said having produce from local gardeners will help them achieve that goal.

“Having this produce will help people eat healthy. I know from shopping at the grocery store, sometimes what gives is the produce. You try to buy the essentials, but you let go of produce because you don’t have the money.”

Olson hopes that the Growing Kindness campaign can grow like the Hunger is Scary Food Drive. It has grown from a drive that filled one vehicle to one that filled an SUV, a minivan and a truck. Most importantly, it filled shelves at the Food Bank.

“If we can grow this campaign the same way we grew that, it would definitely help become a sustainable food source for people in our community,” Olson said.

While this is a Yorkton campaign, Olson and Tim note that this is a campaign that can be replicated everywhere, and they hope that people in other communities grow their own gardens for their own towns and cities.

“We would happy to be a trend-setter if people want to duplicate this in other communities,” said Tim.

To learn more contact the Salvation Army Food Bank, text Carrie at 306-620-9081 or visit them on facebook at Hunger is Scary Food Drive. 

© Melita New Era

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