Gardeners, plant an extra row this spring to help fight hunger

Even though spring is off to a chilly start, gardeners are already planning their gardens. This year, the City is encouraging gardeners to help fight hunger by planting an extra row of produce at home or in a community garden to donate to neighborhood food shelves. The City of Minneapolis Health Department’s Healthy Food Shelf Network unites gardeners with food shelves to help get healthy food into everyone’s kitchens. Food shelf managers and recipients appreciate fresh produce, but the supply usually does not meet the demand.

In 2011, there were more than 3 million visits to food shelves in Minnesota. Hunger costs the state up to $1.2 billion annually in direct and indirect health care and education expenses. Only 15 percent of all Minnesotans consume the recommended number of fruits and vegetables daily. When people donate healthy foods such as fresh produce; whole grains; and low-fat, low-sugar or low-sodium items, they help food shelf recipients eat healthier and prevent chronic health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

How residents can get involved

Health Department staff will attend upcoming events sponsored by the Local Food Resource Hubs to encourage gardeners to plant an extra row for food shelf recipients. Those who commit to participating will receive a free pack of seeds and help connecting with their closest food shelf. The Local Food Resource Hubs Network helps residents grow their own fresh produce. Hub members have access to free or low-cost classes, tools, volunteer opportunities and social events. The upcoming events include:

Ninety gardeners have already committed to planting an extra row this year. To learn more about donating fresh produce to food shelves in Minneapolis, visit www.healthyfoodshelves.org.

City efforts around local food are strategies of Homegrown Minneapolis, a citywide initiative expanding our community’s ability to grow, process, distribute, eat and compost more healthy, sustainable, locally grown foods. Support for the Plant an Extra Row project is provided by the Minneapolis Health Department’s Statewide Health Improvement Program with funding from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Published Apr 1, 2013