How To Plant Produce To Combat Food Insecurity

Donate your freshly grown produce directly to those in need through an innovative program called Plant a Row for the Hungry.

Though the U.S. is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, millions of Americans go hungry. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in eight households experience hunger or the risk of hunger. That’s more than 35 million people who skip meals, eat too little or even go without food for an entire day.

Plant a Row for the Hungry aims to help by connecting gardeners with food banks to get fresh food to Americans experiencing food insecurity. Here’s everything you need to know about how the program works, and what you can do to help.

What Is Plant a Row for the Hungry?

Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) is essentially a produce donation program. It helps put healthy, fresh food directly into the hands of those in your community who need it.

Here’s how it works: Participating gardeners plant an extra row of produce in addition to what they grow for themselves and their families. When harvest time comes, they donate their surplus to local food banks, soup kitchens and other organizations that help those experiencing food insecurity. Pretty brilliant, right?

How To Donate Produce

The first step is to find a local PAR Committee. Here’s a list of all the active committees, where they’re located and how to contact the coordinator. The committee helps connect gardeners to the organizations that can use their produce.

They will also distribute PAR donor receipts, organize kickoff events and harvest celebrations, and ensure participants are complying with local regulations. All you have to do is tend to your growing produce!

If there isn’t a PAR committee in your area, consider starting your own. GardenComm has made it easy, with detailed instructions on how to organize a PAR campaign. They’ve provided tips on how to gather volunteers and publicize events, as well as a rough outline on what to do throughout the harvest season to keep your committee active and successful.

Not a gardener, but still want to help? No problem, PAR also accepts financial donations. Your money will go towards providing educational materials, garden markers, produce pledge cards, training manuals and other services to help direct committee volunteers and the public.

Get more information or help by emailing [email protected].

The Plant a Row Backstory

The program started in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1995, when a local garden columnist asked readers to donate their extra food to an Anchorage soup kitchen. The program was so successful that GardenComm, a professional garden communicators’ association, launched it as a nationwide program.

Since its inception, Plant a Row participants have donated more than 20 million pounds of produce, providing more than 80 million meals to Americans who needed them.