At a sweet corn plot that will be harvested and donated to feed the hungry, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring asked gardeners across the state to donate extra fruits and vegetables this year to help meet the needs of hungry North Dakotans.
“One in nine of our fellow citizens seeks food assistance from charitable feeding programs every year,” Goehring said. “We are asking individuals and groups to join in the 2015 Hunger Free ND Garden Project to grow and distribute at least a million servings of fresh produce to North Dakota food pantries, shelters and charitable feeding organizations.”
“Sadly in a state that produces so much food, hunger is very much a problem here – the Great Plains Food Bank served 11.4 million meals in 2014, an increase of more than 700,000 over the previous year,” Goehring said. “Sadder yet, almost 37 percent of those needing help are children and 12 percent are seniors.”
Also addressing the news conference was Steve Sellent, program director of the Great Plains Food Bank.
“The Hunger Free North Dakota Garden project has not only significantly increased the amount of food we have been able to provide for those in our state struggling with hunger, but it has also played a key role in our goal to provide more fresh and healthy food,” said Sellent. “We regularly hear how much having access to these fruits and vegetables is appreciated by the more than 87,000 children, families and seniors who look to us for nutrition assistance.”
Goehring said information about the Hunger Free ND Garden Project, including drop-off points for garden-grown produce will be available on the North Dakota Department of Agriculture website, www.nd.gov/ndda.
The Hunger Free ND Garden Project was started in 2010 through the local foods initiative of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) in partnership with the Great Plains Food Bank. The statewide project encourages home gardeners and commercial growers to plant extra produce each year for donation to charitable organizations across the state.
Sweet corn plot partners include: Lincoln-Oakes Nurseries, the Great Plains Food Bank, Agassiz Seed and Supply, Missouri Valley Ag, 4-H and North Dakota FFA.
Other partners in the project include: NDSU Extension Service, NDSU Master Gardeners, North Dakota FFA, Dakota College at Bottineau ~ Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture, Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society, The North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association, Healthy North Dakota, Creating a Hunger Free ND Coalition and Pride of Dakota.