How you can help address food insecurity in your own backyard

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for all of us. On top of that, imagine having to cope with the uncertainty of not knowing where to find fresh food, especially in a major city like Philadelphia.

Prepandemic, Philadelphia County was the 10th highest populated city struggling with food insecurity, meaning 1 in 5 residents do not have access to fresh food. Expanding to the counties that make up Greater Philadelphia, even more households in the region can now be considered "food insecure."

Food insecurity is a problem is that many organizations, community leaders, and food pantries in our area have been trying to solve for years. Given the sudden hardships many people were faced with when the pandemic hit home, the number of food insecure households in our region is now at a crisis level.

For more than 200 years, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) has used gardening as a tool to help people become self-reliant, which will ultimately help reduce hunger and food insecurity in our region.

PHS and its network of food banks are working diligently to bring fresh food and produce to Philadelphia-area neighborhoods through an initiative called Harvest 2020.

The program aims to mobilize 100,000 people to grow food for themselves, grow produce to share with others, or donate to the initiative - with the goal of 5 million pounds of produce during this growing season, thus reducing the reliance on conventional food systems.

Harvest 2020 gives everyone an opportunity to participate in addressing food insecurity. PHS plans to educate gardeners of every experience level with a library of virtual webinars, trainings, and more.

With easier access to resources, PHS empowers and motivates gardeners to become more knowledgeable about growing food, and provides details on how to share the excess with a number of local hunger relief organizations.

PHS has built a Harvest 2020 information hub that gardeners can use to find retailers, including contact information, safe curbside pickup, and more.

Together with AmpleHarvest.org, the Chester County Food Bank, Food Connect, Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, SHARE, Philabundance, and other hunger relief organizations, Harvest 2020 connects gardeners with neighborhood food pantries to share their garden harvests to those most in need.

PHS also welcomes funding to help support people in underserved communities to grow and share food for themselves and others by providing access to gardening supplies.

These donations will help reduce the number of food insecure households and residents that face food insecurity issues every day.

For more information, visit: https://phsonline.org/harvest2020/overview.