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

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:

Forty gardeners have already committed to planting an extra row this year.

Non-gardeners can help too

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