JoAnn Alumbaugh
JoAnn Alumbaugh

A number of people commented on my recent editorial, Everyone is responsible. Thank you for recognizing the importance of this issue and providing links to other organizations that are interested in this cause. One such group is CropMobster, a community exchange initiative that connects those who have food with those who don’t. Its website states, “The main principle is creating daily “Win-Win” solutions in the spirit of sharing. If everyone sticks to that we’ll be good to go!”

Another non-profit group is Ample Harvest, which encourages home and community gardeners to donate their surplus fruits and vegetables to food pantries. Even in our rural Iowa community, a group called Tori’s Angels (a non-profit that helps families of children with critical health issues) has partnered with Food for the Needy so that any food not sold at the farmers’ market and other outlets is donated to help feed the hungry. We live on an acreage and don’t presently have any animals (except for an outside dog and an inside cat), but Bill Ridgley, a “formerly retired” farmer and selfless volunteer for Tori’s Angels, comes out to the farm every day to pick the vegetables he’s planted and sell them at local farmers’ markets and other locations.

The first-ever Zero Food Waste Forum will be held in the San Francisco Bay Area in October, and organizers are looking for local business that have surplus food to donate? Food Shift will be co-hosting the event in Berkeley, Cal. Participants’ goal is to provide a lunch of entirely donated, recovered, foraged and gleaned food.

About 40 percent of all food in the United States goes to waste, but Food Shift hopes to demonstrate the ability to feed those in need through serving meals at the Forum that are completely comprised of edible but otherwise-wasted food. Organizers will make sure the food is safe for consumption and will arrange pickup from local businesses.

Clearly, the issue is national and international in scope, but can be addressed on a local level. As producers of food, farmers are the natural choice to take a leadership role in meeting this critical challenge. Find out what organizations are active in your local area, and let’s hear from you on how you’re making a difference.