Planning your garden? Plant an extra row to help fight hunger
Even though spring is off to a chilly start, gardeners are already planning their gardens. 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. In 2013 more than 114 gardeners donated 730 pounds of produce to 17 Minneapolis food shelves.
In 2011, there were more than 3 million visits to food shelves in Minnesota. People who rely on food shelves appreciate the same healthy eating options that any of us want, but healthy foods are often in short supply at many local food shelves. Instead, donations are often high in fat and calories and low in nutritional value.
In Minneapolis, only 28 percent of low-income residents eat the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables each day. When people donate healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables; 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, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. By making healthier foods available at food shelves, we help food shelf recipients eat better and become healthier in the process, which reduces demand for expensive health services.
How residents can get involved
Connect with a local food shelf to learn about the types of produce most in demand.
Plan an extra row (or two) in the garden.
Gather seeds and supplies and start planting.
Share the best produce with a local food shelf.
Events May 17
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. Anyone who commits to participating will receive a free pack of seeds and help connecting with his or her 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 are at:
1 -4 p.m., Saturday, May 17, Grace Center for Community Life, 1500 Sixth St. NE
9 a.m.-noon, Saturday, May 17, Redeemer Center for Life, 1800 Glenwood Ave. N.
9 a.m.-noon, Saturday, May 17, Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 E. Franklin Ave.
Forty gardeners have already committed to planting an extra row this year.
Non-gardeners can help too
- Donate purchased items such as fresh fruits; fresh vegetables; whole grains or low-fat, low-sodium and low-sugar canned and packaged foods. Regarding fresh produce, food shelves love to receive items such as fresh apples, oranges, bananas, squash, tomatoes, carrots and fresh greens.
- Donate money. Food shelves get special prices on healthy foods from food banks and large wholesale suppliers, so they can typically stretch financial donations further than individuals can through their own grocery purchases. With a financial donation, food shelves purchase the exact types of healthy foods their clients will use.
- Host a healthy food drive at your school, neighborhood event, worksite or place of worship, and encourage others to bring in healthy items for a local food shelf.
To learn more about donating fresh produce and other healthy foods to food shelves in Minneapolis, visit www.healthyfoodshelves.org.
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 18, 2014