Grow An Extra Row
Here’s something to keep in mind as you tend your fruit and vegetable garden this summer. There are a number of jurisdictions across Canada that have launched their annual summer food drives. But, there’s one thing that’s particularly special about these summer drives. Instead of just asking for donations of dollars and canned or boxed supermarket food, Food Banks are asking for fresh home-grown produce. Everyone needs to eat a daily diet packed with fresh fruit and vegetables. Those of us who can either grow our own or buy direct from farmers are very lucky. But for those people who can’t afford to pay the high cost of fresh produce (regardless of whether it’s local or not), achieving a healthy diet is very difficult.
The stats I have are for Ontario, but the need is great all across Canada, and the percentage of individuals needing help to feed themselves probably differs little wherever you happen to live. Over 375,000 Ontarians are forced to turn to food banks every month across the province. In fact, 72% of Ontarians turning to food banks do not consume their required daily servings of fruit or vegetables.
Hunger is a persistent problem, as food banks continue to feel the after-effects of the recession on the front line. The demand puts pressures on food supplies that were stretched during the recession by sharply rising numbers and closures of many major corporate food donors. Fortunately, the solution is in our own backyard: there is an available supply of high quality food and farmland that can help meet the need for food for low-income Ontarians. Over 25 million pounds of fresh nutritious food is disposed of or ploughed back into the soil on farms every year.
Here’s what you can do: cultivate a few extra rows, or even just a few extra plants, and donate the produce.