Operation Food Search (OFS) and Urban Harvest STL (UHSTL) have joined 40 nonprofits around the country to launch a mobile app that directs home and community gardeners to donate a portion of their fresh grown produce to support local hunger relief efforts.
Fresh Food Connect’s mobile app coordinates donations from home and community gardeners to non-profit organizations working to address food insecurity on a local level. Gardeners download the app and are prompted to indicate if they have surplus bounty to share. In zip codes across the country, home gardeners can easily arrange for extra produce to be picked up from their doorstep or delivered to a local organization providing free groceries.
OFS and UHSTL have split zip codes around the greater St. Louis area to engage home growers who have more produce than they can use themselves. Rather than simply ask for financial donations to support existing hunger relief work, these organizations are engaging the skills and resources of St. Louis’s vast network of gardeners.
“During the pandemic, we saw a surge of interest in growing food at home – both as a social distancing hobby and a way to take control of the food supply,” says Jamie Wallace, Executive Director at UHSTL. “Our partnership with Fresh Food Connect and Operation Food Search harnesses this passion for gardening to help fellow St. Louisans.”
This partnership not only addresses food insecurity and hunger, but also uses technology and innovation to reduce food waste and redistribute healthy produce. Until now, there has been no market for homegrown food – but these organizations are here to change that.
“Fresh produce donations are especially meaningful to individuals and families experiencing food insecurity,” said OFS President & CEO Kristen Wild. “We are extremely grateful for this partnership and the innovative way it connects generous gardeners with organizations who can help share the bounty with those in need in our community.”
Fresh Food Connect currently operates with local nonprofits across fifteen states. As gardeners plant their vegetable beds, they can plant an extra row knowing that their bounty can be directed to those who need it most with Fresh Food Connect.
“We are thrilled to partner with frontline organizations across the country providing support to community members facing food insecurity. We know that gardeners are some of the most generous people around, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to engage them in the critical hunger relief efforts happening in their local communities,” said Helen Katich, CEO of Fresh Food Connect. “If you are a gardener, just download the app and you will be connected to an inspiring organization.”
Download the app and start donating at https://freshfoodconnect.org/
Operation Food Search
Founded in 1981, Operation Food Search (OFS) is a hunger relief organization that provides free food, nutrition education and innovative programs proven to reduce food insecurity. With a strategic focus aimed at ending childhood hunger, OFS empowers families and increases access to healthy and affordable food. The agency provides food and services to 200,000 individuals on a monthly basis – one-third of whom are children – through a network of 330 community partners in 27 Missouri and Illinois counties and the city of St. Louis.
Learn more at operationfoodsearch.org
Urban Harvest STL
Urban Harvest STL believes in food rights - all members of our community should have equitable access to fresh, healthy food regardless of socioeconomic status, race or location. We grow healthy produce across a network of seven urban farms in the heart of St. Louis and donate the majority of the harvest to nonprofit partners serving St. Louisans with limited or non-existent access to healthy, nutritious food. Urban Harvest STL also equips both aspiring and veteran growers with knowledge and resources to grow their own food through workshops, internships, and online resources. Visit urbanharveststl.org to learn more.