FAQ | Growers

Important COVID-19 information for growers

You, the gardener or small farmer, will be critically vital to your community this 2020 growing season to help reduce hunger and improve the quality of food available for your hungry neighbors. Consider expanding your garden if you have the space to grow more food specifically for donation this year.

To keep yourself, the food pantry staff and the hungry families safe, please follow these guidelines:

1. If you are under the weather, coughing or sneezing, or have a fever, don’t harvest food for your family or donation until you are better. Maybe ask a friend to do it for you (remember…stay 6 feet away from them)

2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap. AND use your gardening gloves from harvest to donation. Don’t have gardening gloves? Consider your winter gloves or maybe dish washing (wash with soap like your hands first) gloves instead.

3. If you are going to use the food for your own family, wash it thoroughly. Using warm soapy water can add extra protection. If you cook the food, the cooking kills any virus that may be present.

4. When you take the food to the food pantry, call them ahead of time and tell them exactly when you expect to arrive. Agree to a specific location at the food pantry where you will leave the food so that you can drop it off and then immediately step away more than six feet before the staff retrieves the food. Both parties should be wearing gloves.

5. When you are done, wash your hands again.

This is a difficult time for America. AmpleHarvest.org and gardeners like you can make it a bit less difficult for everyone.

What do I do if AmpleHarvest.org does not list any local food pantries in my neighborhood?

Great question – We could use your help!

Food pantries are often “under the radar”–they do not have a web site, signs on the front door, or a phone book listing. That is why we created AmpleHarvest.org, to make it possible for growers to find a pantry in their neighborhood.

If we do not list a pantry in your area, please help us find one. How? See if a place of worship or other civic organization in your community has one. Call your regional food bank (www.feedingamerica.org can help you find it) and ask them if they can help you.

Once you do find one, contact them to see if they’ll accept your produce. ALSO, please ask them to visit AmpleHarvest.org or print out the food pantry flier and give it to them. You can also ask them to contact the other nearby food pantries to let them know about AmpleHarvest.org. If they are not Internet savvy, you may want to help them register on AmpleHarvest.org.

Once they are registered, the next backyard gardener in your area looking to share their bounty will not experience the problems you did.

I love the idea of sharing my produce, what do I do once I have found a pantry?

First and foremost, see if they have a preferred delivery day of the week and time of day listed. It is important to adhere to the pantries scheduling information if they provide it to make it easier on their operations. If no day/time is listed, call or email them to find out when they would like you to deliver the produce.

On the day of your planned delivery, harvest your crops in the early morning while they still have some of the coolness of the evening air. If they have dew, wipe them dry with a paper towel. Each item should be visually inspected for serious bruising, insect damage, and ripeness. Do not donate produce that you would not feed your own family. Produce that is overripe, has mushy spots, or is seriously blemished should either be made into a soup, stew, or go into a compost pile but not donated. (Note, if you used any pesticide on your garden, please take the time to clean each piece of produce as recommended by the pesticide manufacturer on the label before you let anyone eat it.)

Next, unless they have given you other instructions, package your produce in paper supermarket bags and take them to the pantry at the requested time. If you find the pantry convenient to get to, you can continue to share your produce with them through the rest of the growing season. Alternatively, you may decide to go back to AmpleHarvest.org next time and select a different pantry – sharing your produce with several pantries.

Please let the pantry know that you found them through AmpleHarvest.org.

Lastly, please remember to let your fellow gardeners know about AmpleHarvest.org, so they can share the bounty of their garden at their harvest time. You can send us a photo of your donation at IShared@AmpleHarvest.org!

I have a lot of tomatoes but only a few cucumbers, should I bother to bring them?

Yes! The produce you bring will be pooled with that of other backyard gardeners in your area. For all you know, the next gardener might bring only 3 tomatoes and two bags of cucumbers.

Remember, the key thing is that food should not be wasted, especially when so many Americans are having a hard time feeding their families.

Your bounty, large or small, will help to diminish hunger in America.

Are my donations tax deductible?

Donations may be tax deductible, provided you can determine the fair market value of your donation. We spoke to our tax experts but you’ll need to talk to yours to get an answer that will be applicable to your situation. You may print out a food donation receipt and use it to help document the donation.

Do pantries care if I grow organically?

Most do not – they are perfectly happy with fresh produce, organic or not. HOWEVER, you may want to let the pantry know if you use organic methods in case one of their clients prefers it. However, with organic methods, you can harvest healthier food without depleting the earth as much.

Please click here for a number of recommended links to help you grow a healthy garden.

Would you like to know if I shared my garden bounty?

We’d love to know about it. Send an email to IShared@AmpleHarvest.org and let us know how much produce you were able to share. You might also want to visit our Facebook page and post the information there too.

There is no need to identify yourself if you don’t want to, simply sign it with your initials and your city and state.

I know about a food pantry that is not on AmpleHarvest.org, what should I do?

Just because you know about the pantry does not mean that other backyard gardeners in your area also know about it.

Please make every effort to inform the pantry about AmpleHarvest.org. The key to success of the movement is to have as many food pantries as possible listed on the site.

You can visit the pantry and suggest that they go to www.AmpleHarvest.org to list their pantry. If they do not have Internet access, print out the pantry flier along with the Top10 reasons to join AmpleHarvest.org flier and give it to them. They may need your help to actually do the registration, but please do not register them yourself without their knowledge. Please remind them that there is absolutely no cost or obligations involved with listing on AmpleHarvest.org.

What happens if someone becomes ill after eating something I donated?

You are protected by the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act signed during the Clinton administration. The Act is intended to encourage donations of food to nonprofit organizations while providing the donor with “Good Samaritan” protection. You are provided protection from criminal and civil liability providing you did not exhibit gross negligence. The text of the act is at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-104publ210/pdf/PLAW-104publ210.pdf and a clarifying blog posting from the USDA is available at https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2020/08/13/good-samaritan-act-provides-liability-protection-food-donations

Is AmpleHarvest.org different from Plant-A-Row for the Hungry?

Yes. Both programs work very hard to get fresh garden produce to the food insecure, in different but complimentary ways. AmpleHarvest.org is focused on getting fresh produce from millions of gardeners across all 50 states to local food pantries, whether they planted extra on purpose—with PAR, for example—or accidentally ended up with too much. AmpleHarvest.org offers all gardeners nationwide, including those participating in Plant-A-Row, online real-time information about their neighborhood pantries. Additionally, AmpleHarvest.org also offers gardeners and non-gardeners alike, the opportunity to see what store bought items the food pantries in their community are most in need of. A food agency or gardener can easily participate in both programs.

How else can I help you do your amazing work?

We really need your support. Making a small monthly contribution is critical to helping us reach more gardeners like you.

Anything else I can do to help?

Yes. Make a short (really short) video for us.

Food pantries across America were invited to say “thank you” to gardeners like you that donate food from their garden (examples at www.AmpleHarvest.org/feedback.)   Take a moment to let it soak in – you are really making a difference in your community.

We would LOVE to also have a very short video from you for the food pantries, hungry families and others to see – videos that express how donating food makes you feel.  This is all about neighbors helping neighbors on a nationwide basis.   All we’re asking for is a 30 or 45 second video (and for sure, nothing longer than 60 seconds) on your phone or computer.    Just follow these 5 easy steps.

1.      Please start the video with something like:  Hi – I’m << first name only>> from <<your state>>. 

2.      Then continue with

      I donated food to an AmpleHarvest.org food pantry


       I’m thrilled to be connected to a local food pantry.

3.      Then continue with your “how I feel” message.  Take a moment to explain what motivates you to donate (“I hate seeing food go to waste” or “I want to help hungry neighbors” or “I know how important healthy food is for people with health issues” for example), how you feel when you drop it off at a pantry, what (if anything) hungry families there might have said to you, etc.  You can also include, if you wish, a bit about what you donated (“Last time, I dropped off a bag of freshly harvested tomatoes….” for example)

4.      Be sure to say something that might encourage other gardeners like “you can do it too!” or “seeing their smiles really makes my day” etc., at the end.

5.      Then upload the video to drop box.

Food pantries love hearing from the gardeners, hungry families appreciate your donations, and other gardeners will learn about donating thanks to you.

Note: These videos will be shared online with the food pantries and other gardeners on social media.  Please do not include anyone in the video that doesn’t want to be recorded, and please do not include any personally identifiable information.  Remember…. use your first name and state only.

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AmpleHarvest.org, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization (EIN #27-2433274).