(Photo above: 2019 Grow & Give Interns and Sungrounded Gleaning | Photos courtesy of High Desert Food & Farm Alliance)
With summer steadily passing, one local nonprofit’s fresh food donation program is in full swing. So far this year, the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance’s (HDFFA) Grow & Give food drive has collected over 6,000 pounds of fresh, local produce for NeighborImpact, the regional food bank. Started in 2015, the Grow & Give program’s goal is to increase the amount of fresh produce available for clients using area food pantries.
Grow & Give is the only fresh food drive in Central Oregon, and HDFFA is well on the way to reaching its annual goal of collecting 15,000 pounds of produce for food insecure neighbors. Food insecurity, by definition, means being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, and over 28,000 individuals in Central Oregon face food insecurity every day.
The program works by collecting donated produce from regional farmers’ markets, backyard gardeners and community members. The program also sponsors on-farm gleaning events. Gleaning is an agrarian word for “going onto farms and collecting excess produce at the end of the harvest,” and HDFFA is bringing this concept back to Central Oregon using volunteers to collect and deliver extra produce to the regional food bank.
This program makes a big difference by increasing access to fresh produce for neighboring food banks and meal sites. This aligns with HDFFA’s belief that local food should be accessible to everyone and that our food connects us to each other. The fresh produce is distributed by NeighborImpact to their 50-plus partner agencies across Central Oregon.
“It’s wonderful when people come in and get to see the produce they get to choose from. Some people leave crying, and I get hugs every day,” said Gary Hewitt, pantry manager at St. Vincent de Paul in Bend. “It’s the produce that makes people smile. Of course, you need the canned goods, but it’s the fresh food that makes the difference for what people expect to get from the food pantry.”
HDFFA is seeking produce donations from farmers, backyard gardeners and fruit tree owners. If your garden is starting to overflow with those baseball bat size zucchinis or you have a backyard tree brimming with fruit, then contact email@example.com or give them a call at 541-390-3572.