How to donate fresh produce to a food pantry

Garden produce
Sara Welch photo

National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day has come and gone, but you still have an oversupply. What do you do?

You should gather up all of those fresh zucchinis and any surplus of other garden vegetables you might have and donate them to your local food pantry.

Community gardens, home gardens and farms can be great sources of fresh local produce for food pantries. There’s no reason for your abundance of produce to go to waste. Follow the recommended guidelines for donation and learn how to find a pantry near you that accepts fresh produce.

Produce donation Guidelines

Follow these recommended guidelines when handling, selecting and transporting the produce you wish to donate:

  • Donate only good quality, fresh produce.
  • Don’t donate produce that has signs of mold, spoilage, bruising or insects. Don’t donate produce you wouldn’t feed your family.
  • Handle fresh fruits and vegetables safely to minimize the risk of foodborne illness — make sure any pesticides and fertilizers have been washed away before donating and avoid exposure to contaminants.
  • If you use pesticides in your garden, make sure you have followed label instructions before donating produce. Any produce you plan to donate that has been treated with pesticides must be harvested in accordance with the pesticide manufacturer’s recommendations for the time to harvest after last use.
  • Clean mud and dirt off of produce before donating.
  • Don’t mix produce types. Separate each produce type into its own clean food-grade container or bag.
  • Check with your local food pantry before making a delivery to ensure produce is accepted at that site and the produce you wish to donate is needed.
  • Before making a delivery, call the food pantry at least one day in advance to find out their preferred delivery times. In cases of large deliveries, you may even set up a weekly delivery schedule with the food pantry organizers.

Finding a food pantry

Salem Community Pantry Inc
Salem Community Pantry Inc, in Salem, Ohio. (Sara Welch photo) is a non-profit organization that makes it easy for gardeners and farmers to find local food pantries and donate their surplus of fresh produce. Use their online food pantry registry to locate food pantries near you by entering your zip code. You should still call in advance to find out which pantries in your area accept and need the produce you have to donate and to confirm delivery dates and times.




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