I've written before about Ample Harvest, a website that lists food pantries that accept donations of surplus produce from gardeners. So today, when the Express-News Grace of Giving series profiled the food pantry at El Divino Salvador United Methodist Church on West Woodlawn, I looked to see whether it is listed, and it is (search on ZIP code 78201). The church is struggling but is determined to keep the pantry open. Here's hoping they get all the help they need from the article.
If you have some cold-hardy greens or other veggies to donate, find a pantry near you and call them up to make arrangements.
In other news, Daniel Bowman Simon, one of the guys who drove the WhoFarm bus (White House Organic Farm) throughout 2008, has launched a new project. He learned that SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps) can be used to pay for seeds and plants for a household garden. He also learned that he was not alone in not knowing that.
He then learned that this has been true since 1973. So he started a non-profit, SNAPgardens, to raise awareness in ways that the USDA has not been able to. Under another NP's fiduciary umbrella, and on a shoestring budget, here are some of the things he has accomplished this year:
- Distributed “Food Stamps Grow Gardens” posters to plant-purveying, SNAP-accepting farmers markets in over half the states in America, plus DC, in languages including Hmong, Cherokee, and Spanish. You can request posters for your farmers market or garden or wherever you want to hang them at: www.SNAPgardens.org/posters
- Presented on SNAP Gardens at the American Community Garden Association’s annual conference.
- Did a poster session at the Community Food Security Conference in Oakland.
- Led a USDA People’s Garden webinar on Food Stamps and Gardening.
- Researched the history of food stamps and gardening, which you can find at www.SNAPgardens.org/history. A larger piece with more factoids was submitted to the journal Cities and the Environment and is now in the peer-review process.
- Provided public comments to USDA on their upcoming revision to SNAP Education, to make it more garden-friendly.
- Testified at a New York City Council hearing about some ways to make gardening an easier choice for SNAP recipients.
- Built a beta website with helpful hints and information.
- Answered lots of email inquiries from farmers, gardeners, extension agents and other government officials, and of course SNAP participants.
- Answered a whole bunch of interview requests, most recently from Grist.
- Helped build a 20x50 hoophouse at the High School for Public Service in Central Brooklyn. The hoophouse will be used to grow seedlings for sale at the on-site, SNAP-welcoming farmers market!
Notice, in the Grist article, he is partnering with Dinner Garden, our hometown nationally recognized seed-donation nonprofit. In 2012, he plans to raise awareness by providing posters, collecting and sharing best practices, and setting up a toll-free information hotline. "We’ll do our best to inspire some of the more than 46 million Americans now depending on SNAP to put food on their tables to grow at least some of it themselves."
If you want to make an end-of-year donation, you'll be going through their fiduciary agent, Open Spaces Institute. Very easy.
I also notice on their Partners page that there are no local (or even Texas) organizations listed yet (Dinner Garden will be there soon, I'm sure). We'll be adding to them, won't we? There's a resolution for 2012.